The Limerick man who captured the German nation’s hearts with a cheeky flag has now won the heart of a German girl.
Richie Tuohy, from Dromkeen, married Orlagh Eichholz and celebrated their happy day with family and friends — and a congratulatory letter and signed photograph from the world’s most powerful woman, German chancellor Angela Merkel.
At the European Football Championships in 2012 in the midst of the recession, Richie and his friends made headlines around the world due to their Irish flag with the slogan “Angela Merkel Thinks We’re at Work”.
Richie and friends Eoin O’Brien, Cappamore; Conor O’Dwyer, Pallasgreen; Eoin Cantwell, Thurles and Richie Leahy, Galway were on the front cover of every newspaper. And in a lovely twist of fate, Richie met and fell in love with a German girl later the same year.
“We actually met in Tipperary Town on St Stephen’s Night. Orlagh’s dad, Jorg, is from Germany, her mum, Libby, is from Doon and she cheers for Tipp. She was born in Germany but moved to Doon when she was five,” said 31-year-old Richie, whose parents are Tony and Esther.
Orlagh’s dad got in touch with Angela Merkel’s office six months ago — even inviting her to the wedding. The chancellor instead sent on her congratulations and some advice:
Marriage, like life itself, is not a comfortable and peaceful state, but a great adventure with many surprises and trials to pass.
While the lads sold the flag for charity a couple of years ago, Richie got a loan of it for the wedding. “Dad was asking me to bring the flag. We had 101 things to be doing but I’m glad we brought it now,” said Richie, aged 31.
While Orlagh remembered the flag, she did not remember those carrying it.
“Then some of the girls were sending me links... and I was like: ‘Stop the lights’. What are the chances — me being German and him being one of the flag lads?” laughed Orlagh, aged 29. Love blossomed and Fr Pat Coffey was the celebrant at their wedding Mass in Cappawhite Church last Friday.
Richie’s twin brother Pat was his bestman while Orlagh’s sister Ciara was her chief bridesmaid. After posing for photographs with the Merkel flag, Orlagh’s dad, Jorg, had a surprise for the couple.
At the wedding Mass in Cappawhite Church last Friday, Jorg sprung his surprise on the couple.
“Orlagh’s dad got in touch with Angela Merkel’s office six months ago — we knew nothing about this of course. He actually invited her to the wedding.
Obviously he knew she wouldn’t come. He thought nothing would come back, but he got a reply about three months ago. It’s a full letter and a signed photograph. It went down well in the room.
"To see her name on the headed paper, it’s not something you see every day. It was lovely,” said Richie, who is an engineer with H&MV in Castletroy.
Orlagh, a junior-infants teacher in Caherline NS, was equally taken aback.
“It was hilarious. I don’t know how he kept it so quiet. His speech went down a treat. You couldn’t hear a pin drop, everyone loved it,” said Orlagh.
The German chancellor wished them luck and success in the future “so that you can realise many of your plans but in particular you can enjoy cohesion and understanding, even in difficult times”.