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Thursday 22 February 2018

Sun smiles on beaming couple for star-studded wedding bash

Jason O'Brien

AUGHAVAS certainly enjoyed its day in the sun. The remote parish in Co Leitrim, it is safe to assume, had never seen anything quite like it.

A host of celebrities -- squeezed into penguin suits or tottering on six-inch Louboutins -- made their way across the tarmac of the beautiful St Joseph's Church from 1pm, while the locals looked on from the side, glancing at their team guide to figure out which hunk was which.

They came thick and fast -- which will probably delight the Ireland rugby coach -- but there was little doubting the star attractions. As ever, Brian O'Driscoll was a stand-out. But yesterday the limelight lingered longer on his beautiful new wife, Amy Huberman.

The Ireland captain arrived at around 1.20pm and, not unlike some of his international teammates, initially struggled to get into his jacket as he got out of the Lexus car. The locals clambered to give him a hand.

Those same locals had given the surrounding houses a lick of paint for the big day. They washed the roads. Stuck up Leinster flags. Landscaped the county beautifully. Made the flowers bloom and the sun shine.

Brian, too, was beaming. But we needed to probe a bit deeper than that.

"How are you feeling?" we shouted over from the bullpen. "Great," he replied.

We went again, armed with local knowledge that some of the rugby players had been spotted in Mohill downing pints the night before and one -- you know who you are Rob Kearney -- had been spotted in a sweet shop no less. "Late night was it?" we asked. Brian shook his head.

"We're just in the door," bestman Damien O'Donoghue said, raising some laughter and causing Brian to shake his head again.

Much of the Leinster team had squeezed their bulks into penguin suits for the day, and provided good sport for the crowd. Was that Gordon D'Arcy? Is Luke Fitzgerald that size? Is that Denis Hickie behind those aviator glasses?

There was no mistaking the unruly mop of Donncha O'Callaghan, however, another newlywed, who braved a sudden downpour to go out to the crowd for 20 minutes and sign autographs.

A lovely touch by the big man, and one replicated afterwards by Brian and by other stars, including Jamie Heaslip, after the ceremony.

But, of course, Amy is something of a star in her own right and has her own celebrity friends.

Other notable figures on the 250-strong guest list included 'Clinic' actress Dawn Bradfield, concert promoter Denis Desmond, actor Chris O'Dowd, famous for his role in 'The IT Crowd', and Pauline McGlynn, best loved for her tea-loving Mrs Doyle role in 'Father Ted'.

Actress Victoria Smurfit gushed she was "honoured to be a part of it" and left us to it.

Brian went into the beautiful church at 2.05pm and Amy rolled up in a white Bentley with garda outriders 15 minutes later.

She looked absolutely stunning, very much like a princess. She gave a thumbs up to the crowd. She, too, was beaming. She got a round of applause simply for looking beautiful, and it was justified.

Somebody with far more knowledge of these things than us said that the off-white dress was Vera Wang. Somebody was wrong.

It was, we were told later, from Myrtle Ivory, a shop in Dublin, and designed by Stephanie Allin. We oohed and ahhed as appropriate.

The ceremony was, according to the couple's spokesperson Joanne Byrne, "very chilled". "She was cheered on the way in, cheered on the way out, cheered when they were announced as Mr and Mrs . . . no different from any other wedding really," she said.

The ceremony included the Take That song 'Rule the World' sung in Italian by a soprano, and also included a Jewish glass-breaking ceremony -- with Brian's best man holding the glass as if he were about to take a rugby penalty -- in a nod to Amy's Jewish heritage.

But there was some poignancy among the laughter, too. The ceremony was conducted by Fr Vincent Twomey, an uncle of Brian Twomey who died tragically in 2008. He was a close friend of Brian and the reason why he had only three in his groom party yesterday while Amy had four in her bridal party.

"I do know that Fr Twomey was the first person to call them Mr and Mrs O'Driscoll," Ms Byrne said, although she couldn't confirm if Amy would be taking the surname full time.

The happy couple kissed as they emerged from the church and into the sunlight to more cheers from the 200 or so gathered outside who took time out from making sandwiches for all the gardai suddenly assigned to south Leitrim.

So was it the biggest thing ever in these parts?


"Well, since 1994 anyway when we won the county championship," Orna Williams (17) agreed. "Oh wait, was that Leitrim winning the Connacht title? Maybe it was 1984?"

Maybe it's best to stick to the rugby.

Amy and Brian mingled among guests in the courtyard, before leaving amid a confetti shower in the Bentley, a glass of champagne in their hands, to a further round of applause.

With the barriers removed, the locals flooded in hoping to get a momento of the day, perhaps a booklet or one of the beautiful bouquets of flowers that had previously filled the church.

But they were disappointed -- the place had already been cleared.

And there was little hope of sneaking into the nearby Lough Rynn Castle either, with even bigger guys in monkey suits prowling around.

Those with a golden ticket, however, were treated to a six-course meal last night, with the Camembert Quartet providing entertainment. They will have a BBQ today when they finally escape those tuxedos.

The couple head off on their honeymoon on Monday, with Africa the broader destination and Tanzania tipped to be the more specific.

More exotic than Aughavas perhaps, but hardly more welcoming. Sandwich anyone?

Irish Independent

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