Thurles turned into Tinseltown as well-known figures from the worlds of rugby, golf and business gathered to greet the bride and groom.
Long-stemmed, white lilies with ornate, silver foliage on high pedestals either side of the long aisle scented the air of the Assumption Cathedral in the centre of the town as the 300-plus guests assembled for the special day.
Among the big-name early arrivals were a very tanned Ronan O’Gara and his wife of just three weeks, Jessica. In typical, relaxed O’Gara style, he arrived in his navy-coloured BMW jeep wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt before zipping around the back of the vehicle where he whipped on a crisp white shirt and black tie.
Hot on his heels were Peter Stringer and his girlfriend, Dee Fenton. While the lads relaxed and chatted, the wives and girlfriends were anxious to avoid getting their stilettos caught in the cobbles of the cathedral yard.
“I’m in great form, looking forward to the day,” the groom said as he greeted his guests. “Yeah, the neck is grand. Feeling good. We’re just honeymooning for 10 days in Mauritius because I’m back in training in less than a fortnight. She’s an understanding wife already,” Sheahan said as he made his way to the top pew to await his bride.
Bridesmaids Ciara Mulvihill, Sarah McGrath and Erica Dunne arrived on the dot at 2pm, a fashionable half-hour late. As the stunning beauties stepped carefully from their silver-coloured Land Rover, a light mist sprinkled them and their figure-hugging, slinky gowns, which were designed and made by Sue Pearce in Blarney, Co Cork.
The slightly ivory gowns were offset perfectly by the dark red and white roses in the round bouquets they carried. Moments later, the stunning bride arrived. Her exit from a replica silver jeep was delayed for just a moment as another light shower passed.
“We’re very relaxed and looking forward to a great day,” she said as she stepped out onto the cobblestones in her flowing, ivory dress with silver beading. “I got the dress in New York. It’s a Keith Poole gown,” the independent marketing consultant said before disappearing up the aisle. Behind her were flower girls, Aoife Murphy, Abi Murphy and Clodagh Murphy.
As the bride approached the round-shaped altar to be greeted by her beaming groom and husband-to-be, there were wide smiles from groomsmen Patrick Sheahan, Joey Sheahan, Jono Sheahan, Ronan O’Gara, Anthony Horgan, John O’Driscoll and Donnacha O’Grady, all of whom looked like they were ready for a great day.
The star-studded guest list included people from the world of sport, entertainment and business. Invitees included Frankie’s fellow Munster Heineken Cup and Triple Crown winners Paul O’Connell, Anthony Foley, Peter Stringer, Denis Leamy, Alan Quinlan, Marcus Horan, Donnacha O’Callaghan, David Wallace and Christian Cullen.
Among those invited from the world of business were property developers Sean Dunne and Michael O’Flynn. Comedian Pat Shortt and long-time friends Peter Clohessy, Mick Galwey and Keith Wood were also in attendance.
It was a very proud day for both families, particularly for Frankie’s parents Catherine and Frank.
Following photographs, the assembled guests retired to the exclusive Heritage Golf & Spa Resort, nestled in the village of Killenard, Co Laois.