It's a photo finish as 25 blushing brides romp home
A total of 25 'brides' took to the race track yesterday for the opening of the Galway Races.
Dressed in all their finery, they competed in the one-furlong race, much to the amusement of the crowds waiting eagerly for the first race.
The ladies were raising money for Special Olympics Connacht.
Caoilinn de Bairead (39) from The Bailey, Circular Road in Galway, was the winner by more than a veil.
And the mum of three was not letting Multiple Sclerosis slow her down. Caoilinn was diagnosed with the neurological disorder nine years ago, just after giving birth to her youngest child, Orlaith.
"I got married 14 years ago next week but this is the first time I've raced in my wedding dress," she laughed.
Caoilinn, originally from Terenure in Dublin, moved to Galway in 1990 to study commerce and ended up staying when she married Brian Barrett. Her children Saoirse (12), Rian (11) and Orlaith (9) were on hand to cheer their mum on as she took the lead. But despite the impressive win, she insisted she had not been putting in the training.
"I horse ride every day so that keeps me fit and the ground was perfect for me. I go racing all the time. I love it, It's great to get a win; hopefully next year I'll be here on a horse," she joked.
She managed to rope in neighbours and friends to take part, including Grace Mannion (41) from The Bailey, who only moved home from Italy last week.
"I only moved back but Caoilinn had us all signed up for this. The thing I was happiest about was fitting into my wedding dress after 12 years and four kids," she said.
The ladies, who were all neighbours of President Michael D Higgins, said they were delighted to kick off the Galway Races.
"We come every year and Monday is always the best day, it was great to kick it off," added Grace.
Nicola Buckley (32) from Castlebar, Co Mayo, took part in the race with her sister Yvonne Reilly (36) who has competed in the Special Olympics for Ireland.
Yvonne, who works in the Rehab Care in Castlebar, represented the country in 10-pin bowling. Her niece Leona Buckley (6) also took part, dressed as a flowergirl.
Chanel McCoy, wife of jockey AP McCoy, was also enjoying the day.
Wearing a cerise pink outfit by Matthew Williamson and hat by Mark T Burke, Chanel said she was delighted to be enjoying a "day off" as AP will not take to the track until tomorrow.
"I don't have to look at the screen and check for any falls or anything," she added.
Meanwhile, the Most Appropriately Dressed Lady Competition was won by hotel manager Aoife Kenny (28) from Headford.
The young woman picked up the dress last Thursday in Campbell's in Swinford, Co Mayo, to match the Kurt Geiger shoes she bought while on holiday in Bath. She won a headpiece by Suzie Mahony, which matched her outfit perfectly.
"I just have to find someplace to wear it now. I won't be here on Thursday for Ladies' Day unfortunately," she said.