Hello sailor: Navy lieutenant Grace marries love of life Carol

Grace Fanning and Carol Brady tie the knot before 200 well-wishers

When Naval Service lieutenant Grace Fanning married Carol Brady it was a wedding just like any other.

But of course, it was that and so much more.

"One of my uncles who was a bit dubious [about marriage equality] said that it was only when he saw the wedding, that he realised," said Lieut Fanning, a former Second in Command of the LE Róisín, which is currently on migrant rescue patrol in the southern Mediterranean.

The women tied the knot on Friday in front of about 200 guests at a marriage ceremony in the Riverside Hotel in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.


It took place “at 14.30 hours” as Grace (33) puts it with a mixture of military precision and giddiness, still delighted and excited at having married her partner of almost a decade.

Carol (27) is a nurse at Cork University Hospital and the pair already have a home together in Kilworth, Cork.

Lieut Fanning is the officer commanding of seamanship and communications training at the National Maritime College in Ringaskiddy.

During the ceremony, eight of Lieut Fanning’s Naval Service colleagues provided a guard of honour.

John Deere tractor

In post-marriage-equality-referendum


, the most unusual aspect of the occasion was Lieut Fanning’s arrival on a large, green John Deere tractor, driven by her father John.

“I love John Deere tractors and machinery and stuff like that,” said Lieut Fanning.

In an otherwise traditional ceremony, both women wore white.

“I arrived first and was walked down the aisle by my dad and she came about two minutes later with her dad,” added Lieut Fanning.

“We were very traditional like. We didn’t want to see each other before [being face to face] at the top of the aisle.”

Lieut Fanning likes talking about being gay and getting married so that wider society becomes more accustomed to such events and accepts them as commonplace.

“When I was growing up, I always knew that I was different, that I was more into girls than boys but, of course, no one wants to be different,” she says.

“I never imagined that I would get married and, normally, I wouldn’t be emotional but I can’t wait to see the video.”

Novelty aspect

The ceremony and celebration was hugely emotional for the happiness inherent in it and also because same-sex unions still have a novelty aspect to them that is laced with a special sense of achievement for those most directly concerned.

“It was like a dream,” said Lieut Fanning.

“I can’t believe it happened. Everyone was so loving, so supportive. It was a perfect day.”

As for her and her wife’s future life together, they would both like children.

“I have several nieces and nephews and we both want to have children,” she said.

“Carol talks about having three. In the new year, we’ll sit down and talk about the logistics of that.”

In the meantime, it’s off on honeymoon to Mallorca later this week for some sun and vigorous walking.

“We love hiking,” says Lieut Fanning, adding after a pause: “Well, I do anyway.”

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh is a contributor to The Irish Times