Walk on the wild side ends in proposal at Fota Wildlife Park

She’s helped steer a naval vessel through storms and mountainous seas and has co-ordinated daring boarding missions with total focus and nerves of steel.

Walk on the wild side ends in proposal at Fota Wildlife Park

But young Irish naval officer Lieutenant Grace Fanning, 31, second in command of the LE Aoife, admitted she was a nervous wreck before she stunned her girlfriend with a surprise wedding proposal in a wildlife park over the weekend.

Grace, from Carlow, said it was one of the most emotional moments of her life as she dropped on one knee in Fota Wildlife Park on Saturday to ask her girlfriend of seven years, Carol Brady, 26, from Wexford, to marry her.

And Carol said yes.

It is believed they are the first same-sex couple to propose in the park.

They posted photos of that special moment on Fota’s Facebook page and the park’s spokesman, Stephen Ryan, said it is set to be the park’s most liked Facebook post ever.

“To be honest, I don’t remember the last 20 minutes of our tour,” Grace said. “I had a speech ready but I just about managed to say ‘will you marry me’. Carol cried, I cried and Leslie our tour guide cried. It was very emotional but we are delighted.”

Grace and Carol, a nurse in Kerry General Hospital, met while playing for Bunclody ladies football team in Wexford about eight years ago.

They began dating seven years ago and live in Kilworth, Co Cork.

They talked about marriage before but Saturday’s proposal was a complete surprise for Carol.

Grace used her naval training to plan a covert mission, buying an engagement ring in secret and arranging a romantic wedding proposal.

She bought Carol one of Fota’s behind the scenes tours for Christmas and planned to pop the question at the end of the tour outside the enclosure of Carol’s favourite animal — the giraffe.

“We got to the end of our tour and I said I just have one more thing to do,” Grace said. “It was fairly emotional alright but the reaction has been incredible.”

The couple thanked Fota for making the day so special.

They are looking forward to the same-sex marriage referendum later this year and hope to tie the knot in 2016.

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