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24 May 2022

Wedding proposals - so how did these Kilkenny couples pop the question?

Siobhan Donohoe asked about how they planned their special moment

Kilkenny News

Charlotte and Patrick Rafter

We know how nerve-wracking planning a wedding proposal can be and sometimes the jitters can get the best of the best of us!
Let’s see how these well-known couples popped the question, who managed to keep it surprise and who had to think fast on one bended knee!


Walter Walsh & Vicky Holden
When a ski trip turns into the most romantic marriage proposal.
Kilkenny hurler Walter Walsh proposed to partner Vicky Holden on the skiing slopes in January.


The Tullogher-Rosbercon sharpshooter chose the popular Pyrenees resort of Grandvalira as the location to ask for Vicky’s hand in marriage while the couple were on a skiing holiday in Andorra.
Walsh made the announcement on social media, accompanied with some pictures from the holiday, saying ‘What a way to top off an amazing week’.
Best wishes to the happy couple!


Patrick & Charlotte Rafter
To the sound of sweet music!
Patrick Rafter met his partner Charlotte when they both performed for the National Youth Orchestra 12 years ago.
Patrick, a world-famous violinist, can now add the world’s most thoughtful romantic proposal to his achievements…
“I think I’m best described as a romantic at heart,” said Patrick. “I had been going out with my then-girlfriend Charlotte for close to 10 years, and I knew that she would be aware that a proposal would be on the cards at some stage. So, I knew I had to put her off somehow - even if it meant making her upset!

“Throughout August and September, I organised the whole proposal for Christmas time and had the ring purchased,” he continued. “Now came the hard bit - finding an opportune time to make sure she believed that there was no possibility of a proposal at Christmas.
“This came through a phone call where Charlotte jokingly replied to the question ‘what do you would you like for Christmas’ with ‘I don’t know, something sparkly and something that looks nice on my finger’.
“I saw this as a perfect moment to lose my patience to get very upset to say; I’m so upset you know that I’ve been wanting to propose to you, and I’ve planned and tried to buy a ring, but this is a mad time a year so realistically it’ll be something next spring on our 10-year anniversary.
“This was met with tears and eventually we got off the phone and I felt it was a perfect example of doing the greater good.”
Now for the proposal itself...
“Charlotte and I met for double breakfast at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. Upon finishing breakfast, we went outside and met a day full of sunshine and blue skies. There was a beautiful Rolls-Royce car outside the hotel.
“Upon seeing this, Charlotte turned to me and said: ‘gosh somebody must be getting married!’
“At this moment, the door opened and beckoned us in. Charlotte turned to me and let out an audible expletive which sounds like take-off.
“So, we get in the car and drove all the way to Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow. At this point, we start walking around the glorious grounds on what is the most picture-perfect day.
“At the most wonderful vantage point overlooking the Wicklow Mountains, I said to Charlotte; ‘I have a present for you’. I proceeded to tell her how I wished her Granny Madge could have been with us at this time. Sadly, her grandmother passed some six months previous, but to the very end she was able to remember the one song she sang to them as children: You Are My Sunshine.
“And so I take out a musical box that played You Are My Sunshine. I get on one knee and opened the box to reveal a ring on the inside. I asked Charlotte to marry me and through the tears she says ‘yes’.
“As is our habit, we inscribed initials in a childlike way in a tree nearby. After this we returned to the car and the day was just getting started!
“First, we had lunch back in the city centre in the same restaurant that was our very first date some 10 years previous. Following this we head to get a massage - nothing better than an Indian head massage whilst staring at the new engagement ring!
“Then following this, I organised for Charlotte to have her nails done. Perhaps the funniest part comes next - I hired out a private cinema chair to air the very first show we watched together - Mr. Bean goes on Holiday.
“After this we went back to the hotel and went out for dinner at Fire restaurant in Dawson Street where having had our phones turned off all day, turned them on and rang family. This was followed by an epic meal and then late-night cocktails at the vintage cocktail club in Dublin.”
Try top that folks!


Rob Murphy & Shane Manley
Rob Murphy, Ireland’s panto dame D’Buffy, popped the question to his partner Shane Manley.
“I spelled out the words ‘Will You Marry Me’ with photographs of special moments in our relationship,” said Rob. “We were staying in the Cliff House in Waterford. Shane went for a spa treatment while I got the proposal ready. He arrived back in his robe and nearly died when he saw all the photos, rose petals and champagne.”


Obviously, Shane said yes, and the couple tied the knot January 25, 2020, in a secret ceremony with a few family members and best friends. They had originally planned a big showbiz wedding in June 2020, but something told them to bring it forward to January on the anniversary of the day they first met.
Rob said they were so blessed with this decision.
“Someone was looking down on us, because our close friend and Uncle Tom, who meant so much to us and sat at our head table, passed away the following April 2020 from Covid. We were so lucky to have him there with us.”


Claire McTernan Phelan and John Paul Phelan TD
A proposal in their little way!
Coming from a political family herself, John Paul Phelan met his perfect match when he first set eyes on Leitrim lady Claire McTernan.
Claire tells us about their engagement when John Paul popped the question to a stubborn girlfriend on December 17, 2017.
“I had an interview for a job that week and I had been preparing for it all week,” she recalled. “I came home from the interview and was absolutely shattered.


“John Paul asked me to go for a walk which was unusual because I am normally always the one pestering him to walk. I told him I was too tired, and we could do it the following day. I got changed into tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie. I even had a hair mask on!
“John Paul asked me again would I not go for a walk. Eventually, he came back into the room and proposed. He had a plan to propose to me in a very different way, in a different location but alas his stubborn wife was not for moving that particular day!
“I’m happy we got engaged the way we did. We got engaged in our house, on our couch, in our little way.
“December was always a very sad time in our house at home because my brother had passed away around Christmas a few years before hand,” she said.
“When we got engaged, it brought a little bit of magic back to December for the McTernans and we then decided to get married the following Christmas, so that we would have good memories associated with December.”


Lorna Doogue & Patrick O’Neill
When a Lady becomes a Princess
Recently married fashion designer of Lady Lorna Emporium, Lorna Doogue said ‘I do’ last Christmas to Councillor Patrick O’Neill, followed by a ceremony in Leitrim’s Lough Rynn Castle.
However, when it came to the wedding proposal, Patrick didn’t have to ask or rather didn’t get the chance to!
“On a short trip to our neighbouring Co Waterford on Sunday December 15, 2019, we sped around the shops picking up last minute stocking fillers for our families,” said Lorna. “We passed a jewellers and Patrick unusually stopped in front of the ring pane.


“I found this interesting as we hadn’t had much time in the past to shop together or even discuss wedding jewellery with upcoming election preparations and hectic schedules throughout the year. He asked me hypothetically if I was getting a ring style what it would be. I was always a fan of the timeless classic ‘Princess Diana sapphire stone’.

“Without further ado, we made our way back to native Bennettsbridge, where we had booked to have dinner in our local Thyme restaurant that evening.
“Acting very out of sorts, Patrick asked me to look for something in the kitchen, but I hesitated and asked him why he needed it, he was acting so oddly.
“He called me back in after 10 minutes...
“There were rose petals all over the living room floor, candles lighting, and Patrick centre-floor on one knee - “will you … - that’s as far as he got!
“My heart skipped a few beats, and I ran over with the warmest embrace and whispered, ‘you don’t even have to ask, you make me the happiest lady in the world. I cannot wait for our lives together’.
“Little did I know, he was doing a great job of throwing me off the scent in Waterford that morning, as I had no idea the ring was in his pocket from the moment we left.
“Knowing me only too well, his attention to detail is impeccable. He had been to Ryan’s Jewellers on the High Street in Kilkenny the previous week and had the Diana classic sized and ready for the big reveal.”


Dominika Stoppa & Gerard Ryan
A commitment ceremony
Kilkenny-based artist Dominika Stoppa and her fiancé Gerard Ryan got engaged last year while walking around the Kilkenny’s Castle Park.


Afterwards the couple had a romantic commitment ceremony during the lockdown in 2021. They are planning the wedding in 2023.


Elaine Murphy & Mark Kavanagh
Hair comes the bride! Top stylist Elaine says Yes!
You could say the cat was let out of the bag for Mark Kavanagh’s proposal to bridal hair stylists Elaine Murphy. Elaine recalls a funny and emotional proposal:
“Mark decided to take me away for a weekend for my birthday,” she said. “However, I was slightly annoyed when I saw him packing the golf clubs.


“I had no idea where we were going until we pulled up outside Trump International, Doonbeg. All I could see were men with golf clubs and golf caddies everywhere, so as you can imagine I wasn’t exactly that enthusiastic about my birthday weekend.
“Upon checking in and brought to our room, I saw a bottle of champagne on the table and though well at least he did something special. Then I saw a card and when I opened it, I let a shout at Mark ‘Mark we’re in the wrong bloody room’ as the card read ‘huge congratulations to you both on your engagement’.
“I genuinely thought we had been sent to the wrong room, until I saw Mark’s reaction. He dropped to the floor and pulled a ring from his pocket.
“I was honestly so shocked, because apparently, I said ‘Oh my God, you can play all the golf you want now!
“Clever man, but he was raging we didn’t get down to the beach first as he had planned, but we laughed about it all it was perfect!
“He had asked my dad’s permission some time previously which was so lovely as he was the first person I rang with the happy news. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that was the last time I would speak to him as he passed away soon after, but we had his approval which was very comforting.
“We then headed to the beach and in pure Elaine style the photoshoot began!”


Adrian Costigan & Gretta Beckett
Reaching for the skies to renew their wows
World Skyscraper Runner Gretta Costigan (Beckett) and Champion Dragon Boat Racer Adrian Costigan renewed their vows last November in Dubai, to celebrate 22 years together and 10 years of marriage.


The Kilkenny couple and childhood sweethearts wanted to mark the years they had lived in Dubai before moving back to Ireland to settle down in the Midlands earlier this month.
“The wow renewal was a nice way to end the chapter of our lives in UAE,” said Gretta, who is also a former Miss Kilkenny. The thrill-seeking couple have lived in Dubai for the past eight years, so the backdrop of the best Dubai skyline views was just perfect for the vow renewal.
“We wanted to celebrate with friends, and it was a chance to wear my wedding dress again,” she added. “The dress looks so much better a decade on with that skyline.”

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