Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Community rallies for nuptials to plough ahead

As the snowstorm dubbed “The Beast from the East” brought the entire country to a standstill towards the end of last week, one local couple were determined it would not spoil their planned nuptials and, with the help of some fantastic community spirit, they literally ‘ploughed’ ahead with their wedding on Friday last. 

Lisa McGahon from Silverbridge and Dean Martin, Ballsmill, had been planning their wedding in Glassdrummond Church and reception in the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan for the last two years, before their plans were thrown into disarray by the sub-zero and blizzard-like conditions which swept across the country, prompting red and amber weather warnings on Thursday and Friday.

According to Lisa’s sister Emma, the couple considered postponing their nuptials when vendors began to cancel at the last minute and guests dropped from the list as the storm gripped the country.  Unable to find another date that worked, the couple decided to face the elements head on and so the call went out to the local community to help get them to the church on time.

Impassioned pleas made on social media for help in clearing the network of rural roads leading to the church were responded to in force, with a veritable army of helpers turning out from 6am on Friday morning with diggers and tractors and shovels.  Local political representatives also used their sway to convince the driver of the Council’s plough and salter to temporarily sidetrack the main routes to scrape and treat some of the narrow country roads to the church. 

Several media outlets got involved in the campaign and the BBC turned up to film the mammoth community effort.  Speaking to the TV station’s reporter on Friday, Aidan Murphy, Chairperson of Glassdrummond Community Group, paid tribute to the strength and character of the local community, and explained that they had received a call early on Friday morning that the wedding was going ahead. 

“We just put texts out and got a few locals involved to come down with shovels, tractors and whatever else was available and we decided to come down and clear it for Lisa and Dean so they could get married today,” Aidan said.

Staff at the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan also went the extra mile, with many staying in the hotel on Thursday night to ensure everything went smoothly for the happy couple on the day.   Bridesmaid Emma told The Examiner that dedicated wedding photographer, Peter Carvill, went “above and beyond”,  arriving to stay with the bridal party on Thursday afternoon to ensure he would be on hand from early Friday morning to capture precious memories of the day.  

Local hair and make-up artists, “Heavenly Hair” and “Lips and Lashes” also pulled out all the stops, ploughing through the snow in a 4 x 4 to beautify the bridal party, whilst Couture Grandeur boutique in Crossmaglen opened its doors on Friday morning for chilly guests to pick up last minute capes and faux furs to brave the wintry conditions. 

Still recovering from the celebrations, Emma spoke to The Examiner on Sunday, and had high praise for everyone who helped make the Lisa and Dean’s wedding day go off without a hitch.

“There was a phenomenal effort by the local community to make this day happen,” she said.

“It’s unbelievable that we were able to rally people like that but it is always the way here that when there’s a crisis, people do come together. It really is something for the community to be proud of.

“Lisa was absolutely buzzing and beaming from ear to ear, she was just delighted with everything.  After planning the day for two years, nothing could have gone more wrong and the whole build-up to the wedding was spoiled by the weather, but in the end nothing was going to ruin it for them and it was just a great day, one they and their guests will truly never forget.  We were all in tears at different stages of the day over the kindness which was shown by everyone,” she added.

“Anyone who was part of Lisa and Dean’s day or helped to make it happen can be very proud of themselves for giving us the help and support that we needed. From the bottom of their hearts, Lisa and Dean thank absolutely everyone who helped give them such a wonderful day. It is a uniquely Irish trait for a community to come together so well in a crisis and we are all very grateful.” 

Bridesmaids may have huddled in the church doorway wrapped in blankets and some guests donned wellies with their wedding outfits but, despite the odds, and thanks to the overwhelming efforts of their local community, Lisa and Dean’s wedding dreams were fulfilled.  With the snow providing the perfect backdrop for some spectacular Narnia-esque photos on the day, the couple will have lifelong memories of a wonderfully exciting day made possible because of the community spirit which shone brightly during one the most formidable weather events in recent history.