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Wedding bells make a comeback at popular Adare church but guest numbers have a long way to go

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Rugby star Johnny Sexton after his wedding to Laura Priestly at the Holy Trinity Abbey, Adare, Co Limerick in 2013

Rugby star Johnny Sexton after his wedding to Laura Priestly at the Holy Trinity Abbey, Adare, Co Limerick in 2013

The Holy Trinity Abbey Church in Adare, Co Limerick

The Holy Trinity Abbey Church in Adare, Co Limerick

Ireland international Kevin Doyle and Jenny Harney wed at the church in 2010

Ireland international Kevin Doyle and Jenny Harney wed at the church in 2010

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Rugby star Johnny Sexton after his wedding to Laura Priestly at the Holy Trinity Abbey, Adare, Co Limerick in 2013

The historic Holy Trinity Church at Adare has hosted hundreds of weddings down the years – and despite the pandemic, many more couples have booked their nuptials for 2022.

But while the wedding ceremony numbers have made a strong comeback, attendances still have a long way to go.

The church, which dates to the 12th century. has witnessed scores of celebrity weddings over the years.

Rugby player Johnny Sexton married Laura Priestley there in 2013, while soccer star Kevin Doyle wed Jenny Harney in 2010.

The three village hotels cater for more weddings than any other location – making it Ireland’s wedding hub. However, they have been badly hit by the decline in guest numbers.

John Shovlin, the wedding co-ordinator at the Holy Trinity church said: “Most of the more popular days have been booked already for the year ahead.

“Weddings are held usually on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

"We do not have weddings on Sundays when the usual parish masses are celebrated.

“Due to the pandemic, the number of weddings decreased, and the weddings that went head usually had smaller than usual attendances.

“But the bookings for weddings at the church have come back very strong for 2022 and nearly all of the more popular days have been fully booked.

“Most are Irish couples but we have bookings from abroad, mainly the UK and the US. So the number of couples who plan to get married in the church is very good news.

“We just hope that all goes well as these uncertain times mean that plans can be affected. The signs regarding the numbers planning to have their big day in Adare are very encouraging.

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"But the number of people attending the weddings is the problem for the hotel industry which is hugely important for Adare.”

Mr Shovlin worked as manager of the nearby Dunraven Arms Hotel for many years.

On his retirement, he was asked by the parish priest, Monsignor Daniel Neenan, to take on the role of wedding co-ordinator to manage the huge number of weddings.

Mr Shovlin (64), a native of Ardara, Co Donegal said: “I looked after countless wedding receptions at the Dunraven Arms and my work now at Holy Trinity Church dovetails with that as I deal with the couples from the time they make contact with the church.

“I ensure that everything from the paperwork to all the church work with florists, photographers, musicians, is co-ordinated. I sometimes even fill in for the officiating priest at wedding rehearsals.”

The three village hotels, Adare Manor, Dunraven Arms and Woodlands House & Spa normally host hundreds of receptions each year.

But the pandemic has drastically cut through this very important business for the local economy.

David Fitzgerald of the Woodlands House said: “It has been a disastrous time for hotels.

“But things are beginning to look up further into 2022. While we have bookings going into the new year, there is the caveat due to the Covid situation.

“While weddings are going ahead, the drop in the attendances is for us a huge loss,” he said.

"For instance, we have a wedding today which originally booked 300. But we will have about 80 sitting down for the meal.”


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