As Australian rugby still smoulders, Lions' hero Jonathan Sexton stepped into the cloistered calm of Adare’s 13th century Holy Trinity Church to marry his schooldays sweetheart, Laura Priestley.
Jonathan, who turned 28 yesterday, arrived shortly after 1.30pm for the 2pm ceremony.
His bride arrived just three minutes behind schedule, accompanied by her father, Maurice.
The bride wore a cream, Grecian-style dress from Myrtle Ivory in Dublin, and the bridesmaids, her twin sister, Cathy Priestley, Emma Richardson and Gillian Sexton, sister of the groom, wore sea green Bastyan outfits, from Brown Thomas.
Jonathan was accompanied by brothers, best man Mark, groomsmen Jerry and Roy Sexton, a first cousin and son of former international Willie Sexton. They were attired in three-piece grey suits, white shirts and silver ties from Michael Barry in Dublin.
Several hundred people gathered outside the church to catch a glimpse of the couple and guests, which included a who’s who of Irish rugby.
Present were Ronan O’Gara, Rob Kearney and Brian O’Driscoll, whose wife Amy was unable to attend due to a family commitment in Dublin.
O’Driscoll arrived in the company of the groom’s godfather, Listowel publican and columnist Billy Keane and wife Elaine.
Other, tuxedoed, rugby figures present included Devin Toner, Andrew Trimble, Sean Cronin, Keith Earls, Cian Healy, and coach Les Kiss.
Limerick florist Dan Lawless garlanded the church with hydrangea, ivory roses, white lisianthus, and each pew end had a green and white Irish rugby touch made up of calla lillies and green hydrangea.
Fr Paul Lavelle, from Kilbarrack/Foxifield parish in Dublin was the celebrant at the nuptial mass.
Fr Lavelle, 73, who was a well-known rugby referee, said: “I have known the Sexton family since my time in Rathgar. We go back a long way.
“I refereed Jerry, the groom’s dad and Willie, in their playing days. Jonathan and Laura are a lovely couple, a couple of faith and this makes it so nice and appropriate. This is a celebration of their faith and their marriage.”
Several hundred guests joined the couple at nearby Adare Manor for the wedding shindig.
The menu consisted of Parma ham and rocket salad, followed by goat’s cheese or smoked salmon.
Then there was a mojito sorbet, before the main course, which had a choice of medal of monkfish of fillet of beef. Desserts included vanilla cheese and apple tart.
The bride, who teaches at Loreto in Foxrock, and her new husband, are today heading off on their honeymoon to Las Vegas.
Jonathan enjoyed a round of golf at the Manor course earlier in the day with Mark and Jerry and cousin Roy Sexton.
One of the busiest men in Adare yesterday was Bantry-born Garda Pat Buckley. He said: “I have been here nine years, and Friday traffic is always hectic but, today, with the wedding and the weather, it’s as heavy as I have ever had to deal with. But everybody is in such good form with the big wedding.”
Jonathan’s grandmother, Brenda Sexton, who still runs the family clothing business in Listowel, was accompanied by her son, John. Mrs Sexton who is in her 80s, said she is looking forward to meeting with her neighbour, Mary Keane, today to tell her all about the wedding.
Mrs Keane, widow of John B, and Mrs Sexton, have presided over their neighbouring family businesses in Lower William Street for over 60 years.
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