A MAN forced to flee the country after gangland threats against his family returned in secret last weekend to marry his sweetheart in a hometown wedding.
The Collins family, who left Ireland earlier this year following threats to their lives, risked returning to Limerick to celebrate the marriage of Steve Jnr to Ciara Clancy.
Friends and family wept as they were reunited for the massive celebration in defiance of the city's violent gangsters.
Celebrant at the wedding Monsignor Daniel Neenan said that the Collins family were "the pride of Limerick".
He described them as a remarkable family, who were admired by all for their courage after their son Roy was murdered.
Steve Jnr emigrated with his father Steve, mother Carmel and sister Leanne just three months ago following the threats.
Older brother Roy (34) was shot dead in 2009 by the McCarthy-Dundon gang, after members of the Collins family gave evidence that led to the conviction of Wayne Dundon for threatening to kill their relative Ryan Lee.
The family felt they were left with no option but to move abroad as they lived under constant threat of attack.
But last weekend they made the brave decision to return in order to celebrate the wedding with family and friends in their hometown.
Roy Collins was also remembered at the Mass, prompting tears from many in the congregation. Gardai helped bring the family home from an undisclosed location abroad and armed officers kept a discreet watch on the area surrounding Monaleen church during last Saturday's ceremony.
The newly weds and 200 guests later celebrated at Ballykisteen Hotel and Golf Resort in Tipperary.
Steve and Carmel's children grew up in Limerick, and it had been decided that this is where the wedding would take place, as they will always regard the city as their home.