Celebrity stars to descend on Co Mayo village for Rory McIlroy wedding
A PICTURE postcard setting, an influx of celebrity guests arriving by helicopter and a security lockdown - Co Mayo is all set to host the wedding of the year.
Golfer Rory McIlroy and American fiancée Erica Stoll will be tying the knot today with a lavish ceremony planned behind the walls of the 13th century medieval Ashford Castle.
In what is expected to be one of the most extravagant golf weddings of recent years, up to 200 guests will descend on the 350-acre estate, which has been on complete lockdown for days.
A-list stars from the worlds of sports, music and film including One Direction's Niall Horan, actor Jimmy Nesbitt and golfers Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington are all set to attend the lavish ceremony and reception estimated to cost more than £200,000.
Irish businessmen including JP McManus and actor Jamie Dornan and his wife Amelia Warner are also believed to be on the guest list as well as martial arts star Conor McGregor, who joined the golfer on his Miami stag party.
The Holywood sport star's (27) childhood friend Harry Diamond is set to perform the best man duties.
Pop legend Stevie Wonder and his 18-piece band are understood to have flown into Shannon airport on Thursday to play at the lavish celebrations, with rumours that Coldplay could also play. There were also reports last night that singer Ed Sheeran could fly in after he performs a concert in Manchester.
Security has been extremely tight at the venue for days, with private security officials stationed at all entrances to the sprawling estate and guests asked to wear wristbands for security checks.
The entire resort, which is located outside Cong village, has been booked out to accommodate the wedding party and their guests with the couple keen to celebrate their big day in private. It is also understood they have turned down magazine deals for coverage of their big day.
The castle, with its nine-hole golf course, horse riding, falconry, fishing and clay pigeon shooting, can be rented for around £83,700 a day at this time of year.
Most guests are expected to arrive at the venue by helicopter landing at the castle's own helipad. However, it is understood McIlroy and Ms Stoll (29) as well as other members of the wedding party arrived in Cong on Wednesday.
Luxury jeeps and limousines have been spotted at the Co Mayo venue for days and it is understood the McIlroy and his friends have enjoyed clay pigeon shooting in the castle grounds.
The four-time major winner started dating Ms Stoll following his high-profile split from tennis star Caroline Wozniack in 2014.
Ashford Castle is a favourite spot for the couple, who have spent the past two New Year Eve's at the luxury venue.
The exclusive estate, in the village of Cong in Co Mayo, is no stranger to star names as far back as the 1950s when it was the setting for screen classic The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.
Residents in the village have been keen to welcome the golfer and his celebrity entourage, with a welcoming sign offering congratulations to the couple erected at the entrance to Cong village.
The sign reads: 'Congratulations Erica and Rory from Ballinrobe Golf Club'.