Our Wedding Story: Brought together by love of the Irish language

Ailis Ní Áinle and Stiofán Mac Amhalghaidh met while volunteering at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Cavan

With a shared love of the Irish language, Ailis, a teacher in O’Carolan College, Nobber, Co Meath, and Stiofán, from Cootehill, Co Cavan, met in August 2012 while volunteering at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Cavan.

“It was a lovely way to get to know each other and it was just right from then on”, said Ailis who is “forever grateful” to her mother Mary for sending her to the Gaeltacht in Coláiste na bhFiann when aged 11.

“I fell madly in love with the language, something really just clicked in me and it became my passion.”

Stiofán – a solicitor who’s also undertaking a degree in Irish part-time with Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh – proposed on December 23rd, 2013, beside the lake at the Radisson Blu Farnham Estate, Cavan, and the couple kept their wedding local too.


They were married by Fr Dermot Prior in a church in Lurgan where their vows were made as Gaeilge – their favourite part of the day.

Music came from soprano friends and two of the bride’s students, Patrick and Mary Horgan, who played the harp and entertained guests on the lawn at Richard Corrigan’s Virginia Park Lodge where the reception was held. The bride wore a Jesus Peiro dress from the White Rooms in Mullingar and carried a bouquet – from Cameo florists, Cavan – with a photo of her father Seàn Hanley who she lost to cancer aged 12.

His last present to her, a French porcelain doll, was dressed in a wedding gown and placed on a table alongside family wedding photos.

The Irish theme continued at the venue where seanfhocail were placed on each table and, after entertainment from the Beat Boutique, the bride and groom performed damhsa na scuaibe (the brush dance) together to the delight of family and friends.

The following day, the newlyweds planted a wedding cake tree in the grounds of Virginia Park Lodge in memory of Ailis’s father. Stiofán’s parents are Peter and Therese Cawley.

The couple, who are partial to a game of Scrabble as Gaeilge at their home in Virginia, spent their honeymoon in Slovenia, Italy and France.

Photographs: Lifting the Veil photography