Instead of walking down the aisle, she reported for duty on the front line of Ireland’s fight against Covid-19.
Paediatric nurse Kayleigh O’Keeffe, 29, from Blarney in Cork, was due to marry her childhood sweetheart, Defence Forces member Seamus McNamara, also 29, in her local church yesterday.
But after the couple cancelled their wedding as the Covid-19 was escalating last weekend, Kayleigh reported for duty at Cork University Hospital (CUH) yesterday to ensure her sick patients get the medications they need.
The couple later shared a kiss outside the Church of the Immaculate Conception and raised a glass of bubbly.
Seamus, a member of the Corps of Engineers who is based at Collins Barracks in Cork, has also reported back for duty as the pandemic escalates.
They both expect the coming weeks to be very challenging but said they and their colleagues are ready.
Kayleigh said they agonised over cancelling the wedding but once they made the call, they knew it was the right decision.
“We knew last Sunday morning that it was getting serious, and we didn’t want to put our guests at risk, and once we’d made the decision, we knew it was the right call,” she said.
“So yesterday I decided to go to work to help.
“I work in the paediatric research lab at CUH, working on clinical trials for new drugs, and two of my colleagues have been carrying the load for the last week.
“Our patients depend on these drugs and, because of the coronavirus, a lot of them can’t get in, and so we’ve been working on how to get the drugs out to them and that was finalised yesterday.”
Kayleigh thanked all the service-providers who had been lined up for the wedding, for their understanding and kindness, and said she and Seamus spent last night enjoying a Chinese meal at home.
They will rest and relax over the weekend, while of course observing social isolation guidelines, before reporting for duty on Monday instead of heading off on honeymoon.
Kayleigh’s mother, Lynda, who also works in healthcare, said their families are very proud of them both.
“Everything just went sideways last weekend but all our family and friends, and everyone involved in the wedding — the church, the photographer, makeup, the band, the hotel, the florist — everyone was just so understanding,” said Lynda.
“Everyone has had something cancelled. They have arranged a new date and we are looking forward to that.
“The next few weeks are going to be tough for everyone in the country, but we will get through it.”
The couple have rescheduled the wedding for later on this year, and said they will focus on that in the coming weeks.