Their paths crossed for the first time as Interrailing in Eastern Europe, the odyssey continued to an island in West Cork for their romantic engagement – and as for their happily ever after?
It’s in London. A five minute walk to the groom’s beloved football club.
“Sheer coincidence,” according to the bride, Irene O’Donoghue.
She and Alex Shields met in Prague while traveling with Interrail 11 years ago.
“I was traveling with two friends over the summer while at university in Cork, and Alex was Interrailing with university friends,” says Irene, from Glenflesk, Killarney, Co Kerry.
“The groups met and we all became friends and added each other as friends on Facebook.”
Years later, Irene moved to London and Alex, from Bristol, spotted the change of location on the social media platform.
“He invited me for a drink in London and the rest is history,” says Irene.
And from Eastern Europe to West Cork, they got engaged while vacationing in Skibbereen, in September 2019. “Alex proposed on Sherkin Island, on Cow’s Strand,” Irene explains.
They recently married in a humanistic ceremony at the Killarney Oaks Hotel, which was also the venue for the wedding reception.
“Denis Hobson, our celebrant, was just brilliant; he made everyone feel comfortable and laughed a lot,” says Irene.
Internationally award-winning Kerry wedding photographer Mícheál O’Sullivan took them on an uplifting photo shoot that took place in Killarney National Park and Eagle’s Nest.
And raising a toast to their future happiness were mother and father of the bride, Moira and David O’Donoghue; and Alex’s mother, Jennifer Shields, and stepfather, Mark Rowley; and her father, Kevin Shields, and stepmother, Jane Geaney.
Irene’s sister, Louise O’Donoghue, was her bridesmaid; with Elizabeth Kennedy and Joanne Moynihan as bridesmaids.
Alex’s friend Joseph Gregson was the best man, with Sebastian Higgins, Steve Brook, Steve Proctor, Marcus Wilton, Alex Waterman and Chris Shields at his side as groomsmen.
The couple describe the big day as “very chill”. “There was no stress. We had a lot of fun,” says Alex. “And we had wonderful music from Irene’s cousins, Ciara, Molly and Aoife O’Donoghue, and uncles, Paud, John and Jerry O’Donoghue.”
UkeBox provided the musical entertainment for the cocktail party and the guests danced all evening to The Vinyls. “They are amazing musicians and we were thrilled,” says Alex.
Irene looked stunning in a Sophia Tolli design she found in Cinderella’s Closet, Cork.
The bride’s makeup was done by Aifric Rice; while Laura Kearney of Laura Lou created the bride’s hairstyle.
The groom and his party looked dapper thanks to Moss Bros Suit Hire.
Guests arrived from New Zealand, Texas USA, San Diego USA, Germany as well as Great Britain and Ireland for the occasion.
“Louise, Irène’s sister, is a chef. She made a cheesecake with different Irish cheeses, then two cakes – a Victoria sponge (scream in English) and a Guinness chocolate cake (scream in Irish) and made a pasture table,” explains Alex.
Thady Kavanagh was the videographer and Breeda Nagle, Sliabh Luachra florist, created the flower arrangements.
Their honeymoon brought the newlyweds around Kerry, welcoming Sneem and Dingle. “We went to Parknasilla for a few nights which was beautiful, then to Dingle and we will be going to France for a week in June,” the bride explains.
Irene is an occupational therapist and Alex is a financial advisor.
The couple live in London. “We are five minutes walk from Selhurst Park football stadium – the home ground of Crystal Palace, Alex’s beloved team. Pure coincidence,” says Irene.
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