JUST when we thought the Rose of Tralee could not deliver any more surprises, Melbourne Rose Christine McGrattan married her long-term boyfriend Cormac O'Sullivan at a secret ceremony.
The couple were wed at Lispole Church yesterday afternoon, just an hour-and-a-half after guests had learned of the imminent nuptials.
Only a handful of family members had known in advance.
The couple's friends and many of the family only found out they were going to a wedding at noon when they assembled at Dingle's Skellig Hotel for what they thought was a 'farewell lunch' for Christine, put on by the Melbourne Rose Centre to thank her for representing it.
On arrival, they were given an envelope that had a card inside with a picture of Christine (26) and Cormac (30), thanking them for being part of their "special day".
Christine, who is from Belfast but moved to Dingle with her family when she was 15, had been quietly planning the wedding behind the scenes for the past six weeks.
She timed it to perfection, because contestants in the Rose of Tralee cannot be married.
"We've absolutely surprised everyone," said the new bride, who looked radiant in a full-length, off-white gown with lace bodice.
"It was very spontaneous but we wanted to do it our way. I knew I was coming back here to marry Cormac, so I wasn't after the Rose of Tralee title, I was after the Mrs O'Sullivan title," a delighted Christine told the Irish Independent.
The couple have been together for over eight years and emigrated to Australia four-and-a-half years ago, where Christine works as a commercial real estate agent and Cormac is in facilities management.
The couple were married by Dingle parish priest Fr Tom Looney and the bridesmaids were Christine's sisters Grace and Aisling and her best friend Clare Harrison.