Northern Ireland news

Dungiven couple tell of race to marry before ban on weddings

Sean Lynn and Rosemarie McNicholl got married in the sacristy of St Columba's Church, Long Tower, Derry just hours before a ban on wedding ceremonies
Marie Louise McConville

A Co Derry woman has spoken of her joy that she and her fiancé were able to marry with just a few hours' notice before weddings were banned amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Rosemarie McNicholl and Sean Lynn had feared they might not get the chance to tie the knot following government directives which put a stop to public gatherings.

Originally booked for April 20 at St Columba's Church, Long Tower in Derry, the couple had moved the ceremony to this weekend in the hope it would go ahead.

However, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson included weddings among wide-ranging new restrictions on Monday night, Rosemarie was forced to take action.

After contacting council officials in Derry on Tuesday morning - and saying a Novena to St Anthony - it emerged that she could still get married before midnight.

Sean Lynn with his wife Rosemarie at their home in Dungiven yesterday. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

The freelance photographer rushed to call her fiancé, an emergency medical technician with the Ambulance Service.

"I said `We are getting married before 12' and he said `Let's do it'.

"The Ambulance Service were amazing giving him the time off and have given him a few days off before he starts back to work."

With just a few hours to organise the ceremony, Rosemarie chose to wear a white dress she had bought from a boutique near her home in Dungiven last year.

She did her own hair and make-up, wore shoes she had bought just a few day before, and used two small bouquets of flowers from her mother's dressing table.

The couple were married in the sacristy of St Columba' Church at 8.30pm on Tuesday by Fr Aidan Mullan, with just Rosemarie's friend and Sean's brother present.

They celebrated afterwards with a fry at Rosemarie's parents house before returning home for a drink with their bridesmaid and best man.

The new Mrs Lynn described her wedding day as "completely crazy".

She thanked her limousine driver, Brian McAuley of First Choice Limousines, for "convincing her" to phone the council.

"It was really simple and all about our vows," she said.

"It was like a film. It didn't feel real. It was incredible. I can't describe the feeling."

Rosemarie said while she was allowed to kiss her husband, the others at the ceremony had to keep their distances.

"I just wanted something simple," she said.

"It was the power of prayer. We wanted to exchange our vows in front of God. We just love each other and it didn't matter about the big day."

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