Kevin Phelan, who is a member of the Defence Forces, hit headlines last October when, having just returned from a six-month mission on the war-torn border of Syria and Israel, immediately dropped to one knee in Dublin’s Casement Aerodrome and popped the question to his girlfriend of four years, Lena Murphy.
Kevin, who had been part of the 44th Infantry group in the Golan Heights, had spent the previous months in constant danger and, at time, dealing with heavy gunfire.
He was also part of a daring mission to rescue 35 Filipino troops who had been captured by Syrian rebels.
Since Carlow woman Lena, who is the financial controller for radio station Beat 102-103, just wanted to have her boyfriend back safe and sound, she said the proposal was a complete shock.
But the well-prepared Waterford man had called Lena’s father a few weeks before his return home to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage and bought a ring in Jerusalem.
He was one of the first to disembark from the plane and, within seconds, was asking Lena to marry him.
The happy couple tied the knot yesterday at a ceremony in St Patrick’s Church, Newtown, Co Carlow.
Lena looked stunning in white, while Kevin cut a handsome figure in his army uniform.
He was one of many soldiers dressed up for the occasion, as wedding guests were treated to a full guard of honour.
“I’m absolutely delighted for Lena and her new husband Kevin” said wedding guest Gabrielle Cummins, chief executive of Beat FM. “It’s fabulous to be a part of such a wonderful event with such wonderful people.
“There were more than 200 people at the wedding altogether and it was really interactive. The priest was an army priest himself and he really involved everyone in the occasion.
“It’s a great day and I just want to wish Lena and Kevin all the very best in their future together.”
Since both Lena and Kevin are “huge rugby enthusiasts”, the wedding had a distinctly sporting theme as the priest, Fr Dan McCarthy, joined a Munster fan and a Leinster supporter together in wedded bliss — even the invitations were made to look like tickets to a rugby match.
“We pray the Lord can keep the Irish rugby team fighting fit and Joe Schmidt can guide them to World Cup glory,” read one of the prayers of the faithful.
Lena and Kevin’s reception was held only a short distance away from the church, at prestigious four-star venue Mount Wolseley Hotel Spa and Country Club in Tullow.
The newlyweds plan to honeymoon on the Mexican shores of Cancun.