Wedding surprise for Cork bride as she's reunited with foster dog during ceremony

In her weekly column Julie Helen recalls her brother's recent wedding and a very special four-legged guest who made an appearance
Wedding surprise for Cork bride as she's reunited with foster dog during ceremony

Philip and Aileen O'Leary on their wedding day pictured with Nala, a Double Doodle and Retriever Luna. The couple have fostered Dogs for the Disabled. Pictured: Mark Coombes Clonakilty.

DURING the week, I caught my brother Philip’s hand and I brushed against his wedding ring. It is so bizarre to me to think of one of my brothers as a married man.

At times, I scarcely believe I am a grown up myself, not to mind the boys, who are all in their thirties along with me!

We celebrated Philip and Aileen’s wedding in August and it was just as emotional as I expected it to be. They had postponed once due to Covid-19 but decided to go ahead when they could have 100 guests. 

Both of them could have filled a room with 1,000 people at a drop of a hat, having met in the local Macra Na Feirme club and each having varied sporting and work interests. 

What I know for sure is that I am extremely lucky to have gained a wonderful sister-in-law in Aileen, she mucks right in with everything and can handle my brother, who is known for being wired to the moon in the best possible way! That’s no mean feat but they are well matched.

We were lucky that the sun shone and the ceremony could be outdoors, being a mum of a toddler who was attending his first serious function, I was relieved to think the open air might make his shrieks and general noise less obvious.

Philip stood at the top of the aisle in the beautiful gardens of Fernhill House Hotel in Clonakilty. He looked sharp in his Irish Army Officer’s uniform. Before anything started, I could see the excitement in him. Then he took the microphone and sang his bride up the aisle himself. That’s the kind of man he is, he gives everything he does, his absolute all and will always go beyond expectations. 

The emotion of Philip singing made Aileen speed up and she was in front of him in no time. She looked incredible in her wedding dress and the spark between them was magical.

The ceremony took on a theme of light and stories were told of the journey the couple had taken from their early courtship to getting engaged in New York, to Philip completing two tours of duty in Lebanon and Kosovo.

They share a love for farming and hard work is a feature of their partnership as well as turning their hand to any project on the go. They are a couple that turn up for others and row in when the chips are down or when there’s fun to be had.

Together Philip and Aileen have fostered dogs for Dogs for the Disabled. They are on their third pup now but Luna was their first foster dog and she is now working with a young girl in Clonmel doing great work as an assistance dog. 

As a surprise for Aileen, Philip had arranged with Luna’s family that she come to the wedding. 

When the gorgeous golden retriever appeared in the middle of the ceremony to bring up the rings with Nala, Philip and Aileen’s beloved pet, both Luna and Aileen starting crying and that set the rest of us off too, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Aileen and Luna were reunited after well over a year.

The whole occasion was peppered with personality and I count myself extremely fortunate to have a family I am so close to and so proud of. We had a wonderful day together and it was great to see cousins and friends again who we had been separated from for so long. The best news is, we get to do it all again next year when Colm and Elaine tie the knot too!

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