The couple chose Ballyglass Church for their ceremony before heading to Ashford Castle in Cong

The Vow

Real Irish Weddings: Love grew from the trenches for Sandra and Dara

Sandra Burke and Dara Keane, both 31, met when they were studying for their master's in archaeology at NUI Galway.

They now both work as primary teachers, but the two honoured the love that brought them together by celebrating their wedding day at a spot they've loved since their college days.

Together seven years before they got engaged, Sandra says when Dara popped the question on a trip away to Amsterdam, she was completely surprised. "We had never talked about marriage and I was caught completely by surprise, even after seven years! We were engaged for a year and a half. It took that long to get over the shock."


The couple chose Ballyglass Church for their ceremony and Sandra wore a custom dress from Pamela Cooney at Dinagh Modes in Castlerea. After they had made their union official, the couple and their guests headed to Ashford Castle in Cong to kick up their heels. "We both loved Cong since visiting the abbey on archaeology field trips in college."

Dara and Sandra put their DIY skills to work for the wedding decor, hanging dried lavender on the church pews, decorating the church door with flowers and creating invitations, booklets, menus, wedding favours and road signs themselves. The couple wanted to include old family photos, so Dara constructed two frames to hang photos of both sides of the family, and the display proved a great talking point among guests.

For their honeymoon, the newlyweds jetted off to the Italian haunts of Isola del Giglio and Venice to cover both the restful and cultural bases and to make new memories together.

* To see the full wedding album by Tomasz Kornas

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