Desperate hacks filled with Wonder at Rory McIlroy wedding

Musician Stevie Wonder said to have played Friday night for golf star’s marriage to Erica Stoll

 Rory McIlroy and  Erica Stoll are marrying today at Ashford Castle, Cong, Co Mayo. File photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll are marrying today at Ashford Castle, Cong, Co Mayo. File photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

 

Stevie Wonder performed a 90-minute concert at Ashford Castle on Friday night for guests, ahead of the wedding today of Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll.

Or did he? All the talk in Cong on Saturday morning was of the fishermen who were on Lough Corrib when the concert apparently started and ended.

While the hotel was remaining tight-lipped as to what has been going on behind the castle walls on Friday night - and although a performance of that nature on the night before the wedding seemed highly unlikely - the fishermen on the lake were adamant the legendary musician had played a full concert.

One of the fishermen was local butcher Thomas Ryan. “He played a really long set,” he told The Irish Times. “I wouldn’t be the biggest fan of his but I recognised all the songs.”

When asked whether it might have been a soundcheck or even a CD playing loudly over the lake, Mr Ryan insisted he could also hear crowds cheering between the songs. “It ended just after 10pm,” he said. “And I caught a big trout too.”

Another view of the wedding set-up at Ashford Castle. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin
Another view of the wedding set-up at Ashford Castle. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

It all sounded a bit fishy. While it was impossible to say for sure whether Wonder played on Friday night, he was certainly seen in Galway city on Friday afternoon. Staff in the Compu b store there posed for pictures with the musician after he bought several sets of headphones, and the results were posted on Twitter within seconds.

Very relaxed

Wonder apart, Ryan the butcher was very relaxed about the palaver surrounding the celebrity wedding of the season taking place on his doorstep.

“It’s quiet enough in the town now," he said. “Usually we have guests from the hotel coming in to have lunch or to buy a sandwich, but they’re all locked up there now. It’s still great publicity for the town and for the hotel.” 

As if to display how unaffected he was by celebrity razzmatazz, the butcher launched into a story of a recent visitor to the shop.

Ashford Castle staff bring hot chocolate and sweets out to the media the day before the wedding itself. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin
Ashford Castle staff bring hot chocolate and sweets out to the media the day before the wedding itself. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

“We had that girl from Friends in here. The one with the red hair. Some people were fierce excited, but I was like ‘What the f**k is Friends?’”

His reminiscence was suddenly interrupted by a colleague. “It wasn’t your one from Friends, it was your one from Desperate Housewives,” she said.

Never mind desperate housewives - it was a real case of desperate hacks on Saturday, as the news blackout remained in place leaving the media pack with virtually nothing to write, say or photograph as they loitered outside the castle.

Non-disclosure agreements

Nothing at all was left to chance when securing the venue. Staff catering for the event had to sign non-disclosure agreements and surrender their phones before being granted admission, while McIlroy’s security detail had even hired a “drone defence” team to keep prying eyes in the sky at bay.

Some details did, however, emerge. Niall Horan and Sergio Garcia flew into Knock airport on Friday afternoon and were whisked off to the castle in the same fleet of limos.

Martin Kaymer arrived on Saturday morning and Shane Lowry was driving to the wedding, but his drive appeared to go awry and he wasn’t due to arrive until after 2pm on Saturday - the time the wedding was supposedly taking place.

The picturesque bridge over the entrance to Ashford Castle, Cong - a stunning venue for the star-spangled McIlroy-Stoll wedding. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin
The picturesque bridge over the entrance to Ashford Castle, Cong - a stunning venue for the star-spangled McIlroy-Stoll wedding. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

JP McManus arrived by helicopter, as did many of Stoll’s family, who flew into Shannon before being whisked over Galway and directly into the Mayo castle.

Quiet skies

The grey skies over Ashford Castle were quiet on Saturday, despite many predicting McIlroy would ferry most of his guests in by chopper.

The skies will be anything but quiet tonight when a €50,000 fireworks display will be put on to mark the climax of the wedding.

Apart from that, details were sketchy about everything from the timing of the ceremony to the wedding menu - although a social media post from the castle’s vegetable supplier hinted that English asparagus might be on the menu.

As pickings go, it was pretty slim.