The Real Wedding of Anna & Ciaràn Who were married in Coolbawn Quay on 27th July 2018
Photography: Gerry Dolan. www.gerrydolanphotography.com
Growing up in the lovely riverside town of Banagher on the banks of the Shannon, Anna and Ciaràn became great friends and it was on her 21st birthday and the night of the ‘21 Kisses’—as it has since become known—that Ciaràn and Anna sealed the deal and friendship turned to romance.
Although they were both at college in different parts of the country, they returned home each weekend for work, hurling matches and each other, until eventually they started their careers and life together in Dublin
Slowly, over the next few years, the call of the sunshine and the laid-back Australian way of life beckoned and they followed their good friends out there, ‘just for a year’ they told their families. One year became five as they immersed themselves in their local Perth community, enjoying work, beaches, barbecues, and going out for breakfast, with views of the ocean as a constant backdrop to their life. Hurling is Ciaràn’s 2nd love and they joined the Sarsfields Hurling and Camogie Club.
This became their link with home and where they found great support and friendships that they know will stand the test of time, something the Irish diaspora are so good at all over the world.
When they came home for a family wedding in 2016, Ciaràn and Anna took a trip to Galway and on the beautiful rugged rocks of the Connemara coastline Ciaràn got down on one knee and surprised her with a proposal. Both families were delighted and happy celebrations took place over the next few days.
They used this time at home to organise a search of possible venues and after seeing an Irish Wedding Diary photo shoot in Coolbawn Quay, their search was short as the visit to Coolbawn Quay took their breath away and Ciaràn knew there was no point looking any further—Anna had made up her mind. After consultation with Fr Pierre of St Rynagh’s Church in Banagher, the date was booked.
On their return to Perth as they started to make inroads into the organising of the wedding, they found to their joy and amazing surprise that they were expecting… twins! Once their lovely little Aussie babies, Freddie and Sophie, arrived, they made the difficult decision to return home for good. They shared the old-fashioned values of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and although they had the best of friends and family in Perth, they wanted to raise their children amongst their cousins, aunties, uncles and grannies, grandads, great-grannies and great-grandad at home.
Along with organising and planning a wedding, Anna and Ciaràn moved lock, stock and barrel back home to Ireland with twins Sophie and Freddie a month before their wedding day.
With the to-ing and fro-ing of emails and the mammies picking up the slack when they were needed, there was never any reason to worry. Coolbawn Quay ‘know their stuff’ when it comes to wedding business, and no matter how many questions they had to answer (so calmly and professionally as if you were the first one to ever ask it), they had it covered. The staff could not do enough for you; they are their greatest asset.
Anna had visited a number of wedding dress boutiques in Perth just to be sure, but knew she would always return to the very first one she tried on in Samantha Wynne Bridal Boutique. It was her to a T. It was a Pronovia Atelier gown—so elegant, no fuss and with a touch of class. As Anna and Ciaràn had precious cargo (Sophie and Freddie) to carry home to Ireland, she entrusted her beautiful gown to Stephen (Ciaràn’s brother and best man) and Danielle, Stephen’s girlfriend, to be carried by hand from Perth a couple of weeks after them. Regular photos along the trip assured them they still had it with them. The Shona Joy bridesmaids dresses also from Perth were carried home prior to this by other friends. It really was an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ wedding.
On the morning of the wedding, the hairdressers Zoe Dolan and Joe Caufield arrived at 8.00am and shortly after them, the makeup artists Fiona Coyne and Judy O’Reilly. With Anna, four bridesmaids, Ellen, Laura, Linda and Jacintha, mum and two grannies of the bride, they had their work cut for them. The bridesmaids were in flying form and the bubbly and the craic made for such a relaxing, funny morning without any hiccups at all—or so we thought. We suddenly remembered the Child of Prague! Ellen, who had carefully carried it home from Prague at Christmas especially for Anna, rushed out to the garden in the hope it wasn’t too late! When the ivory Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II from Anna Harvey Chauffeur Service in Tullamore pulled into the drive we knew then it was all systems go.
Anna and Ciaràn were lucky to have such talented family and friends to help them with their big day, including Vera Harte, who personally delivered the beautifully fresh bridal flowers of peony roses that morning, Ciaràn’s Auntie Maggie Gallagher, who dressed the church with lovely flower arrangements, Auntie Phil Kenny, who hand-knitted a replica of their family—bride, groom and two little babies—for the cake decoration, and sister Elaine for the cake.
Anna walked up the aisle on the arms of her proud mum and dad just after flower girl Aine, pageboy Aodhan, and the twins, Sophie and Freddie, nearly stole the show. The wedding mass was carried out by Fr Pierre who was always so helpful with communicating with Anna and Ciaràn in Perth and the wedding ceremony was made extra special by the beautiful music of the Dublin String Quartet which filled the church with love.
Following the ceremony, Anna and Ciaràn exited the church through a guard of honour by the local hurlers and the bridesmaids were escorted down the aisle by the groomsmen, Stephen, Jason, John and Josh (Anna’s brother). After a quick ‘one for the road’ in Simon Lyons pub in Banagher, the wedding party and guests made their way to Coolbawn Quay.
The beautiful summer we had all enjoyed up to then—possibly the hottest on record—decided to change its mind that day of course, and as we drove down through the country lanes towards Coolbawn with a view of Lough Derg in the distance, the clouds got darker and darker until they finally gave way to a downpour. But this didn’t dampen the spirits nor did it take away from the beauty of Coolbawn. Actually, some of the best photos and video footage were those taken in the rain, thanks to Gerry Dolan Photography and Richard Speedie of Bigday.ie. Again, the wonderful staff of Coolbawn greeted the guests with smiles and umbrellas as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
After the delicious food and heartfelt and hilarious speeches, the wedding partied on through the night to The Vows Wedding Band who kept the dancefloor full all night. The celebrations carried on the next day in Coolbawn Quay with a chilled out day of BBQ, beers and sunshine, with Paddy and Michael Buckley’s toe-tapping trad, and on into the early hours with DJ Martin Mulhare from Banagher.
Anna and Ciaràn were so grateful to all the family and friends who came to celebrate their special day. Special thanks goes to the mothers of the bride and groom, Annette and Celine—wedding planners supreme.