She may be the fastest woman in Ireland but sprint champion Ailís McSweeney was fashionably late for her wedding yesterday.
The 29-year-old holder of the national record for the women’s 100m beamed with delight as she arrived at her local church in her native Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, to marry GAA football star Bryan Cullen.
Bryan, 28, who captained the Dublin footballers to their 2011 All Ireland title and who works as a strength and conditioning coach with Leinster rugby’s sub-academy, was waiting patiently inside St Mary’s Church, as curious onlookers gathered outside for a glimpse of the gorgeous bride.
Ailís, who arrived with her father, Eamon, worea light ivory, full-length lace-over-satin dress with diamanté embellishments, and a mid-length veil. She held a simple bouquet of red grand prix roses.
Her matron of honour, Orlaith McSweeney, and her bridesmaids, Caitríona Santry, Jane Jeffery, and Sinéad Cullen, wore full-length peacock teal dresses, with crisscross backs, and matching furry shrugs.
Ailís, a Leevale athlete and TV pundit, posed for photographs under an archway of gerbera and ivory roses made by Paul Hayes of Glounthane-based Flower Power, at the church door, before assuming her starting position inside.
Then, instead of her usual power, speed and strength, she displayed grace, poise, and elegance as she walked arm-in-arm with her father up the aisle, lined with tall black candelabras, each with five flickering candles perched above a rustic wreath of holly, ivy, and pine cones, to the strains of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’.
The groom was waiting at the altar with his best man Graham Cullen, and groomsmen John Lumsden, Marc Hewitt and Old Belvedere rugby player, Conal Keane.
Fr Anthony O’Brien led the celebration which featured music by Emma Twohig, Aisling Fitzpatrick, Tom Crowley, and Rachel Hassett.
About 100 close family and friends attended the simple ceremony, including Ailís’s friend, Olympic sprinter Derval O’Rourke, and her fiancé, the sailor Paul O’Leary. Ailís was Derval’s training partner for the London Olympics.
Also there were several of Bryan’s Dublin football team-mates including the Brogan brothers, Alan and Bernard, Paul Flynn, Stephen Cluxton, Barry Cahill, Paul Griffin, and Denis Bastik and his wife, Jodie Hannon, whose wedding featured in RTÉ’s Franc’s DIY Brides last year.
The newlyweds were treated to a bottle of champagne outside the church, served by Jim Cooney, who runs nearby Guilders Bar.
“It’s a bit of a tradition with us that we serve champagne to local couples getting married here,” he said.
And the guests were treated to coffee and hot chocolate outside the church before travelling the short distance to the reception at the Fota Island resort.
The couple are taking some time off to enjoy their honeymoon. But the bride is in training for the European Championships in March and the groom said he plans to be back in training in time for the early rounds of the 2013 league, which begins for Dublin with a strong test against Cork on Feb 2.
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