Waay back in the 20th Century I worked for a while with the banquets in Bunratty and Knappogue castles. It was a great job. I was one of the butlers there, and got to spend every night eating good food, singing, and spending time as part of a brilliant team.
In September of 1998 President Bill Clinton was in Ireland and attended an event in Limerick. The day he flew back to America his transport detail were allowed a bit of down time.
And enter the Marines! You’ve heard of Marine 1. The Helicopter that flies the president on shorter trips. Logical really, but to bring that helicopter means you need to bring a whole support team of mechanics & crew. Along with a security detail. Every one of these men were either marines or ex-marines.
After a few days of almost zero sleep and being on duty, they were given a night out in the castle. And did they make the most of it.
As a butler I got to do my share of serving the food, getting to work the tables with the marines. They were a VERY fun loving lot – though a few had a bit too much of a fascination with my outfit (requiring the put down of “Just how long have you been away from land, sailor?”)
One of the features of the banquet was that each night one person had to be put in the dungeon for some various infraction of decorum. (no shortage of candidates, then). That night the man we picked was the pilot of Marine 1, call-sign “growler”.
So, into the dungeon with Growler, and he had to sing to earn his freedom. So, dutifully he stood, and said “I’d like my bretheren to sing with me…” and he launched into the Marine anthem. Instantly all the marines in the hall jumped to attention and roared the anthem at full volume. Every jaw in the room dropped.
They weren’t done yet.
Part of my duty was to bid farewell to all the guests, being at the door as they filed out.
The Marines had all perfected what we referred to as the Bill Clinton Handshake. Shake with your right hand while giving a solid pat on the shoulder with your left.
Thirty something marines later and my shoulder was definitely none the better for it. Tenderised would be a good description.
Anyway, I went home at that point, but missed the next bit…
The Ladies Of The Castle went out in Limerick for the rest of the night with a group of marines. Talking about it the following night, it appears that each of them was a perfect gentleman. I think there was a hint of disappointment in their voices.