A SPORTS star who was seriously injured in a car accident eight years ago, enjoyed the best day of his life at the weekend when he returned to County Limerick to marry his American sweetheart.
Former Limerick minor hurler, Joseph Hargrow, from Bulgaden, Kilmallock was left fighting for his life at the Mater Hospital in Dublin in November 2003 after he was involved in a road accident near O’Malley’s Cross in Bulgaden, aged just 18.
In 2007 he was offered a sports scholarship by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater wheelchair basketball team.
While at the university he met the love of his life, Joani Traylor from Wisconsin, and the pair tied the knot at Bulgaden Church on Saturday before travelling to Ballykisteen Hotel at Limerick Junction for the reception.
“Everything was perfect,” smiled Joseph. “The weather was great, we had a great dinner, the speeches were good craic, the band were brilliant and the DJ.”
The 26-year-old who is in his final year studying health and human performance in the University of Whitewater, Wisconsin says it was “love at first sight” when he clapped eyes on Joani.
And the feeling was mutual it seems. “Oh yeah, he is very handsome. He got me with the accent,” smiled Joani.
The kindergarten teacher purchased her wedding dress in America and knew it was the one when she tried it on. “I put in on with the veil and cried,” she said.
Joseph and Joani were going out for three years before they got engaged on June 25, 2010 and it was always their plan to wed in Joseph’s home parish. Sixteen of Joani’s family travelled from the US and four of Joseph’s family and friends made the trip from New York for the special day. “Joani loves it here in Ireland, she would come with me for holidays at Christmas and during the summer,” said Joseph.
“I love the scenery,” added Joani. “I love the food, my favourite is the sausage rolls,” she laughed.
Even though he has been based in the US for the past five years, Joseph has still maintained a strong connection with his roots and keeps in close contact with his family and large circle of friends. His mother Brigid lives in Bulgaden while his sister Nancy Keyes lives in Crecora with his nieces Niamh and Rachel. His other sister Maria lives in Detroit with his nephew and niece, Paris and Asia. During his teenage years, Joseph worked in SuperValu in Kilmallock and Martinstown Stud and also played hurling with Staker Wallace GAA club as well as Limerick minors. While he still keeps up to date with all the GAA action - watching as many games as he can on-line - Joseph’s real focus now is basketball and the college team, the Whitewater Warhawks.
He won an American All-Star in basketball this year and he has won three American college national basketball championships. After a hectic few weeks, the couple will now get the opportunity to relax as they prepare to begin married life together - they will enjoy a 12 day cruise on the Mediterranean.