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West Cork brides and their wedding dresses

March 9th, 2024 3:00 PM

By Emma Connolly

West Cork brides and their wedding dresses Image
Emma in her Vera Wang wedding dress.

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West Cork women reflect on their wedding dress choices, and tell us what became of their frocks after the big day out!

Emma Connolly, Southern Star columnist

Emma in her Vera Wang wedding dress.


EVERY now and then I wonder what ever became of my wedding dress.

Despite thinking that I could never love anything or anyone more (besides my husband to be ... obviously), I sold it. Imagine!

A few months after I walked up the aisle, possibly feeling more in love with myself than was recommended, I tucked my gown into its zip-up bag, and took it to a pre-loved shop in Dublin, which had it sold before the end of the week.

I can’t even remember my motivation now except perhaps that it was so large, that I didn’t know where to store it, and also perhaps because I was slightly miffed that when I tried it on shortly after the celebrations the zip needed a bit of encouragement to do up.

Anyway, one way or the other I decided that it deserved another ‘big day out,’ so off it went.

It wasn’t even the dress I had my heart originally set on.

That one was a Vera Wang I had spotted in a bridal magazine and the nearest stockist was in Browns Bride, London. Notions? Me? Turns out that one didn’t suit me at all, but luckily I fell for another Vera on a nearby rail so all was not lost (the champagne could have helped!).

It was strapless, dropped waist with a huge ruffle skirt. On the day I wore my sister’s veil and added a grey ribbon which came with the dress, for dancing, and I felt like a rock star.

I had intended to use the dress proceeds for something significant like a piece of art but I think it got sucked into everyday expenses.

That’s life! And as I now identify more closely with Vera Duckworth, or that batty TV detective Vera than Ms Wang, I’m glad I had my haute couture moment, and someone else had too.


Ashling Daly, Beautique beauty salon, Skibbereen

Married Richie Collins on November 3rd, 2023 at Fossa Church in Killarney and The Great Southern Hotel.

I got my dress in Memories in Cork city and it was by a designer called Devine Atelier.

It was originally long sleeved with a pattern but three weeks before the wedding I decided to completely change the top of the gown and remove the sleeves to make it more simple, which felt more like me.

I went to Urata Gembutiene of Urata Designs in Ballincolliog, who is amazing and she totally transformed the dress to the vision that I had.

I loved it. It’s in my mother’s home at the moment and isn’t in the best condition after our big day!

This was actually my second dress. We originally planned to get married in 2020 but Covid had other plans and in the meantime we’ve had two girls, Isabelle and Stella.

My original dress was a completely plain, long-sleeved crepe dress from Aibheil in Adare, bought just before lockdown.

I didn’t want it to go to waste, so Urata made it in to a mid-length dress and added feathers for me and I wore it on the second day of our celebrations.

My advice for those dress hunting is to take your time. Make sure you love it, walk around in it and make sure it’s comfortable and doesn’t crease easily.

If you love it without having your make-up or hair done, then you are going to adore it on the day!

Sinead Hallahan, Gooseberry boutique, Clonakilty

Married Kevin O’Donovan on January 11th, 2008 in Dunmore House Hotel (Kevin’s family home).

I didn’t wear a traditional white wedding gown. Derry our first-born, was five-months-old when we got married, and I wanted to be able to include him without any worries of moving around in a wedding dress.

I adored my choice of coat by Paddy Campbell and dress by Sabatini White bought in Samui, Cork.

My neck piece was from Moda in Mallow and my shoes were from a little independent shoe boutique in the Savoy Centre.

You’d never guess that I am a fan of supporting the small independents!

Samui was the first store I went to with one of my sisters Sharon, my mom Ann and Derry in tow.

This is what I do for work so I am very definite in what I like as I have to be the buyer for my store, so I knew straight away that this coat and dress were for me.

Both pieces are now hanging in my wardrobe and I would hope to be able to wear them again.

If any of my four children get married, you’d never know, I might wear a piece of my outfit to their day.

My advice when looking for your wedding attire would be go with what you like yourself.

You are the one wearing it so if it makes you feel good than that’s what counts the most.

If you are the kind of person who wants to make buying your wedding dress a big part of your day, then enjoy your viewings and fitting and all that comes with that process of choosing your dress.

Anyone who has followed my store for the last 20 years would probably agree my choice was more my contemporary style. I loved what I wore and wouldn’t change a thing.

Michelle O’Mahony, Monks Lane, Timoleague

Married Gavin Moore on October 2nd, 2016 in Doolin Hotel in Clare.

I got my dress in Folkster in Kilkenny. I went with my friend Caitlin and I had it picked in minutes.

It was a Spanish label, all lace with a silk underlay, with a strapless sweetheart neckline, fitted to the knee and then it kicked out a little.

It was quite a romantic, classic dress. I wanted to look back in years to come and not be embarrassed with my choice.

It was also very light and moveable as it was important to me to be comfortable on the day.

The dress had a large train which I removed because I didn’t want to bustle it for dancing.

I added a diamante belt and wore a lace-trimmed cathedral veil. It was beautiful and three of my friends have worn the veil since.

I think it’s lovely to pass on veils and jewellery to other brides.

I tried on loads of beautiful dresses in lovely boutiques all over Cork.

I had a lot of people with me for the first dress fitting and I found that hard because everyone had a different opinion.

My advice for brides is to have a fun day out with family and friends for one day and then pick one or two people for the serious dress fitting.

Don’t overthink it and go with your gut feeling.

The dress is now hanging in my wardrobe and I want to hang on to it for my daughter. I still try it on every so often to remember the feeling.

Maeve McCarthy, estate agent, Skibbereen

Married Kevin Fitzgerald on May 14th, 2010, at Fossa Church in Killarney, with the reception at Ballyseede Castle, Tralee.

I’m a pretty decisive person, so I only went to two shops and tried on four dresses before I found ‘the one’ in Brown Thomas, Dublin.

It was very different from what I initially thought I’d choose, definitely more unstructured.

It was a Vera Wang, simple in design with a classic silhouette but most importantly really easy to wear.

It was very comfortable and felt right for the entire day, from the church to the dance floor.

The detail at the back was my favourite part and I paired it with a long veil.

I was pretty chuffed when my sister spotted Beyoncé in the same dress in the video for her song ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ – even if it’s now stored in a dry-cleaning bag in my wardrobe!

My advice to anyone dress hunting is to look for a comfortable dress that feels true to you.

Remember, your wedding day is a unique chance to celebrate with loved ones, so be sure to enjoy every moment.

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