Our Wedding Story: An Arch of Swords for an officer and his bride

Claire Redmond waited until fiance Niall Dolan returned from the Lebanon before choosing her wedding dress

Claire Redmond and Niall Dolan Niall (35), from Glasnevin, an officer in the Defence Forces, met Wexford-born Claire (36), an English teacher, on a Christmas jumper night in Dublin three and a half years ago.

He proposed on New Year's Eve 2013 on the Brooklyn Bridge and in May 2014 began a tour of duty in Lebanon with the Irish Defence forces.

“Much to the despair of my mother,” said Claire, “I was very superstitious about choosing the dress and really didn’t want to try any on until Niall came back. I eventually got it at the very last minute – in wedding dress order terms – at the end of November in Cameo Bridal, Kilkenny.”

On June 11th 2015, Claire and Niall were married in Screen Church, Co Wexford where Claire's parents Kathleen and Seán Redmond had their own wedding 41 years ago.


Theresa and the Stars (featuring Séamus Ó Mongáin) played during the ceremony, as they had done at the Redmonds’ wedding 41 years before.

The bride wore her mother’s veil and the groom wore his green ceremonial uniform and military medals of service, and carried a sword.

During the Offertory Procession, eight soldiers marched up the aisle to raise their swords around the couple. They welcomed the newlyweds outside the church with an Arch of Swords. Traditionally, this ensures safe passage into the next chapter of their lives.

The reception afterwards was in the Ferrycarrig Hotel on the way to which photographs were taken in the grounds of Johnstown Castle.

Chief Bridesmaid was Áine O'Carroll and bridesmaids were Sandra Jones, Claire Togher and Anne-Marie Dolan. Nell Ní Mhongáin was the flower-baby.

Gary Morrissey was best man, the groomsmen were Enda Dolan, Eoin Dolan and Barry Redmond, and nephew Finn Dolan was the page-boy.

The couple wanted to include all of their siblings in the wedding party so John Redmond was an honorary member. The groom's parents are Gerry and Linda Dolan.

Music that night was by Brass and Co, and a surprise for guests was a fireworks display over the river. The newlyweds' first dance was to Let's Stick Together by Bryan Ferry. "An unusual choice apparently," said Claire, "but we wanted an upbeat number and also something meaningful. It starts: 'And now the marriage vow is very sacred . . . You know we made a vow not to leave one another never.'"

Claire and Niall – who honeymooned in Cancun and Las Vegas – live in Dublin and in between house-painting and DIY are on the lookout for a dog. Photographs: Joeleen Codd Photography, joeleencodd.com

Sarah Geraghty