Tuesday 25 April 2017

Lavish castle wedding for Nama debtor's daughter

Developer Gerry Gannon with his
daughter Amy and her bridal party at St Mary's Church in
Quin, Co Clare
Developer Gerry Gannon with his daughter Amy and her bridal party at St Mary's Church in Quin, Co Clare
Amy with her husband Declan Rice. Photos: Tony Gavin
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

He might owe Nama €1bn but that didn't stop developer Gerry Gannon throwing a lavish wedding reception for his daughter at the millionaires' playground Dromoland Castle yesterday.

Wearing his trademark Fedora hat, the low-profile developer gave away his daughter Amy to Declan Rice of Portmarnock, Co Dublin, in the picturesque setting of St Mary's Church in Quin, Co Clare.

The last time the public was given a glimpse into Mr Gannon's luxurious lifestyle, he had been playing the role of dutiful husband, sweating profusely as he lugged his wife Margaret's Brown Thomas shopping bags to his Range Rover in an RTE Prime Time special that exposed the still-blinging lifestyles of Nama's most indebted developers.

Yesterday, however, the 'man in the hat' was playing another and undoubtedly far more important role.

Arriving with her father just 20 minutes beyond the appointed starting time of 2pm, the bride looked resplendent as she stepped out from her chauffeur-driven Daimler limousine in an ivory wedding gown with the careful assistance of her four bridesmaids, all of whom wore burgundy dresses with an ivory sash to complement her gown. A beaming Mr Gannon was attired in a traditional morning suit, topped off with his beloved fedora.

The mass, celebrated by Fr Tom Colreavy, was traditional in tone and content and accompanied by the music of Handel played by the Dolmen String Quartet.

And while there was little outward evidence of Celtic Tiger conspicuous consumption beyond the BMWs, Mercedes and Range Rovers parked on the streets of the village outside the church door, the bride still managed to offer the 200-strong wedding attendees a telling insight into what she wanted for her big day.

In a note embossed on the cover of the Order of Service, she said: "I dream of a wedding of elaborate elegance . . . a church filled with flowers and friends . . . I asked him what kind of wedding he wished for . . . He said one that would make me his wife."

But whatever the bride and groom had dreamt of for their big day, those dreams came perilously close to being scuppered by the actions of a few young men at the wedding who attempted to prevent press photographers from taking photographs of the happy couple outside the church after the ceremony.

Thankfully their actions -- which it should be noted were not called for by anyone related to the bride or groom -- didn't go on to mar the reception that was held afterwards at the sumptuously appointed five-star Dromoland Castle.

Dromoland -- which only recently earned the distinction of being voted one of the world's best hotels and resorts by the discerning readers of Conde Nast Traveller magazine -- had left nothing to chance yesterday in its preparations for the Gannon family's big day.

Indeed, from early morning, the hotel's wedding team were to be seen hard at work preparing the tables in the Brian Boru banqueting hall. By the time the wedding party arrived in the late afternoon, the hall had been transformed with crisp white table linen, gleaming silver cutlery and dazzling crystal stemware the order of the day.

All talk of the recession was left outside the wrought iron gates of Dromoland, a venue which famously played host to former President George W Bush during Ireland's EU presidency in 2004.

And it's probably safe to say that there was little mention of Nama amongst the wedding guests, and if there was, it certainly didn't arise anywhere within earshot of Gerry Gannon, a man whom Nama chiefs Brendan McDonagh and Frank Daly will have been keeping a particularly close eye on ever since it was revealed how he transferred more than two dozen properties into his wife Margaret's name since the bad bank's establishment.

For the meal itself, starters consisted of a choice of Shallot and Garlic Tart or Doolin Crab with Mozzarella Roulade, followed by Champagne Sorbet.

The main course consisted of a choice of Grilled Fillet of Irish Beef with Braised Red Cabbage and Green Peppercorn Sauce or Grilled Fillet of Sole with a Parsley Crust, Tomato, Lettuce and Sugar Pea Fondue.

The dessert was bland enough to please even a builder's palette with a Warm Apple Crumble served with Brown Soda Bread Ice Cream or a Seasonal Fruit Gratin with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream on offer.

For those guests, like fellow developer Mick Bailey, still peckish after that, the ever attendant waiters and waitresses were on hand with petit fours to accompany bottomless pots of tea and coffee.

The champagne flowed freely all through the afternoon and evening. He may be one of Nama's top 10 developers, but for Gerry Gannon, it would seem his cup still runneth over.

Sunday Independent

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