Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll wedding: Excitement builds in Cong

Wedding of the year to take place at Ashford Castle amid tight security

Erica Stoll and Rory McIlroy. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty

Erica Stoll and Rory McIlroy. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty

 

The small Mayo village of Cong is rolling out the red carpet this weekend as it becomes the centre of the golf world for the wedding of Rory McIlroy.

The 27-year-old Holywood native is marrying Erica Stoll in Ashford Castle with an array of A-list celebrities set to flock to one of Ireland’s most famous hotels. Security has been tight all week around the 350-acre estate and the hotel has been booked from Wednesday through to the weekend by the wedding party. But before the place went into lock-down two couples from Virginia in the United States got their chance to experience the luxury first-hand in the days leading up to the wedding of the year.

Patrick and Patricia McGovern and Rich and Trudy Jelderks stayed at the hotel and they were astounded by it.

“My ancestors came from Northern Ireland so I always wanted to come back and visit here,” said Mr McGovern.

“I have watched Rory McIlroy a lot, I am a big fan, and I’m sure he’ll like Ashford Castle. I put up a Facebook post saying; ‘It was a great combination of historic majesty with modern convenience’.

“That’s what I felt when I sat in the room, you are sitting in a bed under a chandelier. You reach to the left and you hit a button and your lights go on and all of the windows close. Yet they do it so subtly that you feel like you are in a real-life castle. It fits perfectly in Cong.”

One man who knows what it is like to cater for the rich and famous is Carlos Gordo, who now works in a restaurant and pub in the village, having previously worked as a chef at Ashford Castle.

He left his native Lisbon to take up a position in the hotel and after a brief move to the G Hotel in Galway he came back to work in Cong again.

“My head chef at the time in Portugal knew the head chef in Ashford Castle so me and my girlfriend came over,” said Mr Gordo.

“Ashford brings all of the VIPs to Cong and it’s great for business. People try to sneak in and have a look at the celebrities so you get those people eating at our place. But it’s a small village, everyone is nice and no one forces themselves on the celebrities.”

Ann-Marie Harie, who owns Harie’s Kutz salon in the town, said she is likely to have a few busy days ahead as the locals prepare to host the wedding of the year, but she says they never overstep the mark.

“There might be an extra visitors coming down to look, but it would be pointless because they won’t be allowed near anything with security everywhere,” said Ms Haire.

“It’s nice to see the celebrities around, but we don’t bother them and that’s probably the reason they keep coming back.”