Irish woman flies across Atlantic to be US childhood penpal's bridesmaid
A friendship that began as pen pals communicating across the Atlantic resulted in a Dundalk woman travelling to the United States to be bridesmaid for her lifelong friend.
Joanne White, originally from Ravensdale, outside Dundalk, began writing to Kim Marciniack when she was a pupil at the nearby Faughart National School.
A close bond was developed over 16 years, culminating in Kim asking Joanne to be her bridesmaid.
Joanne made the trip to Indianapolis for the ceremony and was honoured to be by her friend's side for the big day. The heart-warming story was topped off when Joanne and her boyfriend, Anthony Keenan, got engaged in New York on the way home.
"It all began when I was in 5th or 6th class when teacher Jim Kelleher encouraged us to write to a pen pal," said Joanne.
"I had five or six to start with, but Kim was the only one I kept in contact with. I'm 28 now so we have been friends for 16 or 17 years.
"We would normally write about every two weeks and then exchange gifts for Christmas and birthdays."
The pair visited each other's homes when they were in their teens.
New technology replaced the letter-writing and contact was maintained through Facebook, with Kim asking Joanne to be her bridesmaid via social media.
"I was really surprised, but absolutely delighted," said Joanne.