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Real Weddings: Mairead & Kieran’s Christmassy wedding in Co Clare

Real Weddings: Mairead & Kieran’s Christmassy wedding in Co Clare


by Shayna Sappington
16th Dec 2023

Irish actuaries Mairead and Keiran moved to Australia a few years ago, but they always dreamed of returning home to tie the knot with family and friends present. Last year, they took the plunge and their stunning winter venue – the dramatic Dromoland Castle – did not disappoint.

THE COUPLE
Mairead and Kieran, both actuaries working in finance.

THEY LIVE
In Sydney, Australia.

THE VENUE
Dromoland Castle, Co Clare.

PHOTOGRAPHY
Anna G Photography.

THEY MET
While studying for the same degree at UCD. We didn’t talk much the first two years, but we became good friends in the third year. We have been together ever since Mairead’s 21st birthday celebrations in Edinburgh!

THE PROPOSAL
We moved to Australia in 2018 and had been talking about going to see a sunrise at Bondi Beach for a long time. Kieran suggested we get up early and head there on November 2, 2019, where he proposed with a beautiful pearl ring as we watched the sun come up over the ocean. We kept it a secret from everyone for over a month until we could tell our families face-to-face when we went home for Christmas that year.

THE DRESS AND THE SUIT
The dress was from Karen Willis Holmes, an Australian designer. I knew I wanted a dress with lots of beading, a low back and a higher neckline, and I tried on a lot of dresses to find the perfect one – but it was worth the search! Kieran’s suit was a deep navy three-piece tux made to fit by Brent Wilson in Sydney.

THE CEREMONY
We had originally intended to get married in June 2021 in Ireland but cancelled as Australian border closures meant that we couldn’t get home. We debated eloping in Australia just the two of us but knew that we really wanted to get married with our families present. As soon as the borders opened in November 2021, we got planning and arranged our intimate wedding with just 16 of our closest family for early January 2022.

We got married in the beautiful Kincora Gallery in Dromoland Castle. We had a humanist ceremony and it was lovely to be able to personalise it to make it truly ours. We had all of our parents and siblings involved in different ways throughout the ceremony but Mairead’s father had the hardest job of guiding her safely down a flight of stairs at the beginning of the aisle.

THE RECEPTION
We held our reception in the Terrace Room in Dromoland Castle. It was the perfect location for an intimate gathering and the food and service were incredible all night.

THE ENTERTAINMENT
Dromoland Castle’s in-house harpist, Caolan Russell, played beautiful harp music for both the ceremony and drinks reception. Sean de Burca came to play the piano and sing for the evening entertainment. I wasn’t sure we would be doing much dancing given we were such a small group but Sean had us up on the dance floor all night. Sean also let Kieran and his brother borrow his piano so they could play some songs to entertain us as well!

THE DECOR
We were lucky that the castle was already beautifully decorated as we were getting married at Christmas time. Perfect details added some gorgeous finishing touches such as the flower arch and table décor. Dromoland Castle’s pastry team made the cake which was decorated with some crochet flowers fashioned by Mairead’s mother.

THEIR TOP TIPS
Think about what’s really important for you in a wedding. When we were faced with being stuck in Australia and needing to cancel our original wedding plans, it really made us focus on what our priorities were in a wedding. Also, not all weddings need a long lead time and if you’re happy to get married off-season or mid-week you can get things organised quite quickly.

THEY WISH THEY HAD
We wouldn’t change a single thing!

THEIR BEST MOMENTS

The whole day was perfect but the best part was finally being able to get married and celebrate with our families. We were also incredibly lucky that it was one of only two dry, sunny days in the three weeks we were home.

THE FIRST DANCE SONG
Always by Bon Jovi.

THE CREW
Bride’s Dress: Karen Willis Holmes. Bride’s Shawl: Glitzi Bitz. Groom’s Suit: Brent Wilson. Hair & Make-Up: Catherine Hickey. Florist: Lawless Flowers. Music: Sean de Burca. Transport: Bentley Wedding Cars. Videography: Limelight Wedding Films.

See more photographs from Mairead and Kieran’s wedding in the gallery below.

Photography by Anna G Photography.

Want to see your Real Wedding on IMAGE.ie? Email [email protected] with the subject line ‘Real Wedding’.

This article was originally published in December 2022.