Celebrity marriage that's helped make a mountain out of Mohill
Published 03/07/2010 | 05:00
IT PUMPED tens of thousands of euro into the local economy, but the publicity was priceless.
The marriage of Amy and Brian made a mountain out of Mohill, putting an anonymous rural village firmly on the showbiz map.
And locals were happy to show their appreciation with banners and flags -- in the hope that this weekend's success will attract more lovebirds to the picturesque corner of Leitrim.
"Nobody of that fame has come around here before. I'm still amazed at (the fact) they picked it, but it's great for the place and everyone extends a welcome to them," said local man Pat Kilkenny.
The massive security and traffic control operation mounted for yesterday's celebrity wedding was underwhelmed by the small but highly appreciative crowd.
But the 300 or so well-wishers who kept vigil in the carpark of St Joseph's Church in Aughavas, near Mohill, were rewarded for their patience with a grandstand view of Ireland's rugby captain, his teammates and his bride as they arrived.
And those who stayed away conveyed their congratulations and expressions of good luck through a dazzling array of messages, flags, banners, bunting and floral displays that adorned the main street of Mohill, where the Connacht final of the Fleadh Cheoil was also taking place.
"Best wishes to Amy and Brian from all of Mohill," read the large sign at the town's edge.
Along the R201 that leads to St Joseph's Church in Aughavas, green flags billowed in the breeze and the scoreboard at the Cloone football grounds displayed the message 'Good Luck Brian and Amy'.
Throughout the afternoon, a crowd gathered outside McCaffrey's bar to wave at the wedding party as it drove past.
The mere glimpse of garda outriders escorting a coachload of guests up the hill towards the chapel, was enough to send groups of teenage girls into a frenzy of excitement.
Schoolboys with copybooks called out random names of players as the buses emptied and the guests made their way into the church.
There was much excitement when Ireland lock Donncha O'Callaghan broke loose from the scrum of guests outside the church door and sprinted down to the spectators to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
"I'm more comfortable in shorts," he confided as he continued to work his way up the line, obligingly kissing girls' cheeks and signing a little boy's shirt, despite a torrential downpour at that very moment.
Bridegroom Brian O'Driscoll took the crowd completely by surprise when he, too, shyly made his way down to shake hands and accept their congratulations and good wishes.
Daniel (6) and Kate (5) Blessing, who travelled from Limerick for the occasion, held aloft a home-made sign declaring "It's a try, Brian".
Their dad, John, who is from the area, was more than impressed by the magnanimity of the rugby captain, who signed Daniel's Lions jersey.
"I can't believe he did that on his wedding day. It was really nice of them, way more than we expected," he said.
Local woman Genevieve Bohan was more than impressed by a close-up of the dashing rugby star.
"I came to see Brian. He is a bit of eye candy for Aughavas and he was looking very dashing," she said.
Rita Needham from Hazelwood in Sligo was down for the Fleadh Cheoil Connacht finals in Mohill with her three children, Liam(12), Ciaran (11) and Eilis (7), but decided to call out to see the wedding.
"My sister, Mary O'Brien, lives out here so we rang her and she brought down a picnic and stools," she said.
They were the envy of of the foot-sore and hungry who had turned up less prepared for the long wait.