US family hail 'overwhelming generosity' of Irish people after equipment and wedding footage stolen

US family hail 'overwhelming generosity' of Irish people after equipment and wedding footage stolen
Paul Van Bloem with his sister Anna Lisa who got married to Jeff Olsen on the Hill of Tara to on the Summer Solstice.

An American family has expressed its gratitude for the help they received here after over almost €9,000 worth of equipment was taken in a robbery - including valuable footage of a wedding just a day before.

Videos and photos of Jeff Olsen and his new bride Anna Lisa Van Bloem, who were wed during the Summer Solstice on the Hill of Tara in Co Meath, were stolen from Anna Lisa's brother's car while he stopped to visit the Hill of Slane on the way back to the airport.

The couple, who have offered a €1,000 reward for the return of their memories, were hoping to show footage of their traditional Celtic hand-fasting service to their eight children - from previous relationships - when they returned to Utah

A total of $10,000 (almost €9,000) worth of equipment - all of Paul Van Bloem's livelihood - was taken when his car was broken into on the Hill of Slane, traditionally the place where St Patrick lit the Paschal Fire to herald Christianity to Ireland.

Thieves also made off with most of Paul's baby items as well as their passports.

US family hail 'overwhelming generosity' of Irish people after equipment and wedding footage stolen

"I was filming my sister's wedding this summer solstice. The next day on the way to the airport, our bags were stolen from our rental car. They stole almost all of my camera equipment, my wife's laptop and our external hard drive. They also stole most of our baby's things as well as our passports.

"All of this equipment totalled about $10,000 in value and are the primary tools that I use day to day to support my family. This was a huge blow to what was supposed to be a magical week.

But the worst part of it all is that the stolen hard drive contained all of the footage of the wedding, and that, of course, cannot be replaced. This is the part that upsets me and my wife the most.

He said they were able to get emergency passports and make it to Portugal a couple of days later.

"However to add to our huge expenses of being robbed as well as the shock of losing that precious footage, the airline refused to let us reschedule our flights so we had to repurchase the same tickets at quadruple the cost we originally paid.

"On the bright side, the Irish Tourist Assistance Services (ITAS) was extremely helpful and arranged for free accommodation at Trinity College for the weekend until we could replace our passports.

"We want to thank Trinity College and ITAS for their kindness and generosity as they eased the stress and financial burden of this surreal experience.

We can only hope for someone to return our stolen bags to retrieve the lost footage. My wife and I are terribly upset that our sister won't have this footage to remember such a magical day and share those memories with their children back home.

Anna Lisa said: While the loss of the footage was tragic we try to remind ourselves that we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful wedding in such a wonderful place like Ireland for our special day.

"Our only regret is not being able to share the video of that day with our kids here back at home, who we weren't able to bring with us to Ireland. We are hoping that with luck it will turn up and that they'll have that chance to see it.

"We have been touched by the overwhelming generosity of the people of Ireland, of their time and their efforts to help us in this endeavour.

"We've had dozens and dozens of people reaching out to us expressing their sadness for our situation, some sharing personal photos and video clips of that beautiful morning, and it is truly heart warming.

"It far out outshines any shadows that the robbery have cast on our experience in beautiful Ireland. And we want to express our sincerest gratitude to those who are taking the time to help us in our search."

Anyone with any information can contact annalisaandpaul@gmail.com

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