Whatever comes to mind when dreaming of the ideal wedding, few have their ancestors at the forefront but New York bride Shannon Burke was so charmed by stories of her great-great grandmother she decided to plan a North Kerry wedding from across the Atlantic.
Throughout her childhood, the 29-year-old solicitor had often heard tales of her great-great grandmother Kate McCoy who had lived in Listowel Co. Kerry but emigrated to Albany in New York in 1872. Always curious about the woman her grandmother had spoken about so animatedly, Shannon visited the town in 2001 on a family holiday and was captivated.
When Shannon became engaged to her husband Corey Gaul (29) last August, the famous writers’ town continued to charm her and she believed that Kerry would be the perfect destination for their American wedding party.
“My mother’s grandmother, who lived to be 103 years old, always talked about her mother, Kate McCoy who came to America from Listowel,” said newlywed Shannon.
“In the summer of 2001, my family travelled to Ireland and we were sure to make a stop in Listowel to see where our people came from. We loved the people and the landscape and the small-town charm.
“I had always said I did not want a big wedding, just a dinner party with family and a few friends. My husband, on the other hand, comes from a big family and envisioned a big party.
“I knew I’d have no trouble convincing Corey to marry in Ireland because he has strong Irish roots; therefore, once the decision was made to have a destination wedding, Listowel was the place,” she said.
The couple, who have been together since 2012, wed in an intimate ceremony in St Mary’s Church in Listowel, which was attended by just 83 of the couple’s closest friends and family.
“All of our guests travelled to Ireland from the United States and they were so thrilled to be in Ireland for the wedding,” she said.
“Most of our guests were able to make an extended trip out of it, with many of them travelling around Ireland and other parts of Europe in conjunction with their trip to our wedding.
“Having a rather large group come into a town like Listowel created the perfect environment for our guests to really get to know each other and spend time together. In addition, it allowed Corey and me to actually spend time with our friends and family; we couldn’t cross the street for a pint without running into one of our guests and that is exactly what we had hoped for,” she said.
The prospect of planning a wedding across the ocean might have seemed daunting at the beginning but the bride and her mum Andrea Burke revealed planning the day was so effortless, they were waiting for something to go wrong.
“Though the idea of planning a wedding from across the Atlantic was originally daunting, my mom was so instrumental in getting each detail of the wedding planning exactly right. “Everything was arranged via email and telephone and we are still amazed at how perfectly everything turned out.
“The staff at the Listowel Arms, particularly Patrice O'Callaghan, are utter professionals and simply top notch.
“I was really nervous the day of our wedding and I had been told to just expect and accept that something will go wrong on the big day. I can honestly say that everything went even better than we had hoped,” said Shannon.
Although an Irish wedding seemed dreamy for Shannon, her beautiful wedding dress captured in photographs taken by local photographer Ann McNamee of Paper Hearts.
“I got my wedding dress at Lovely Bride in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan. It is the “Cassandra” gown by Sarah Janks,” said Shannon.
Like any good Irish wedding, the party ended with a knees up at the bar in the early hours of the morning.
“The Listowel Arms looked absolutely gorgeous and every detail was executed perfectly. For dinner, our guests had the option of selecting roast rack of lamb, fillet of Atlantic salmon or roast sirloin of beef. Our wedding cake was made by Michelle O'Connor at the Lane Cottage.
“Our wedding band was The Love Junkies and they kept everyone on the dance floor the whole night! When the music stopped, those still standing, including myself, my new husband, as well as my father, spilled over the hotel bar at the Listowel Arms and kept the party going until the very wee hours. It was truly unforgettable and we are still glowing,” she said.
Shannon and Corey's wedding photos were captured by Kerry-based photographer Ann McNamee. paperhearts.ie