Glaslough hosts Match of the Day

There's nothing like a good old knees-up with close pals. But the decision by Sir. Paul McCartney and his would-be bride Heather Mills to pick the County Monaghan village of Glaslough as the location for their maritial bash fair took the breath away of not only their close circle of friends, the world's rock and pop music glitterati but most of all Glaslough's unprepared inhabitants. Why the whole occasion almost stole the limelight from Monaghan's preparations for their All-Ireland SFC first qualifying round clash!

One doesn't know whether Sir Jack Leslie was even aware of Monaghan's vital clash with the Wee County in Clones on June 8th but if he was, he wasn't letting on - at least not to the mass ranks of media camped outside his castle.

On the other hand, letting the world's print and broadcast media representatives in on the 'secret' wedding plans of Mr. McCartney and Ms. Mills, was quite another matter. The world could wait for things to happen naturally at St. Tighernach's Park, as far as the eccentric Sr. Jack was concerned. However, as far as the owner of Castle Leslie was concerned, everyone needed to know about Glaslough's monumental day. . . and they were duly informed, to the grand amusement of the happy couple.

June 11th 2002 marked the day of the McCartney/Mills high-society wedding. It also marked the day when the village of Glaslough and its inhabitants became part of a media circus.

However, given the former Beatle's connections with Monaghan, it was always likely that when a wedding date was fixed by the courting couple that the 'oul sod would be eyed as a possible location for the wedding of 2002.

Back in the early eighties, Paul McCartney's brother Mike brought out a book in which the full extent of the McCartney family's ancestral link to County Monaghan was detailed.

Mike McCartney's outline of the family tree proved conclusively that his and Paul's mother, Mary Mohan, hailed from Tullynamalroe, Castleblayney. It appears that on researching his roots for himself in early 2001, the famous popstar became truly smitten by Castle Leslie and the surrounding scenic countryside.

The guest list for the wedding read like a Who's Who of the pop and rock industries. Fellow Beatle Ringo Starr was in attendance as was St. Elton John, Bono, Sting and Jules Holland. Pointedly there were no Mohans present at the reputed £3.5 million bash.

"The families weren't close, so we didn't expect to be invited to the wedding . . .but if he had called when he visited Ireland last year in search of his family roots, we would have made him welcome - he would have been assured of a nice, hot cup of tea," said Mr. Peter Mohan, a second cousin of the singer, from his home in Tullynamalroe, near Castleblayney.

Similarily, another Irish second cousin of the ex-Beatle, Margaret Daly from Doohamlet, said she also didn't expect any invitation as her family had not met Mr. McCartney.

Mrs. Daly said she remembered her late father talking of having spent holidays with Paul McCartney's grandfather who was a coal merchant in Liverpool.

"It was only when we read later about the singer's background that we realised we were related to him," Mrs. Daly confirmed.

The Mohan connection with the billionaire singer/songwriter is completed by two other members of the clan, a Thomas Mohan who lives in London and Michael Mohan, who lives in Limerick.

While there is no suggestion that the hugely popular artist conciously snubbed his Monaghan relations on his big day, there is no doubt but that Sr. Paul McCartney was intent on erecting a ring of steel around the 17th century, 1,000 acre estate to ward off any unwanted attention at Castle Leslie.

The north Monaghan village was en fete on June 11th last. But the strong complement of gardai, private security personnel and the giant marquee and tents present on the day singled the day out as a unique one for Castle Leslie and the people of Glaslough.

Everyone was intenton catching a glimpse of the happy couple. Indeed the gardai had to re-arrange the crowd barriers on several occasions as people rushed forward to acquire a more advantageous viewing position ahead of the former Beatle and former model's arrival at the castle.

This was a day like few other for Glaslough and the scene painted an appropriate picture. The street leading down to Castle Leslie's heavily secured main entrance was alive with activity on the day of the wedding as hundreds of curious locals, visitors and members of the huge media entourage mingled in good spirits.

The fairytale wedding went ahead with the minimum of fuss, save the distraction of a helicopter overhead which prompted the groom to delay the ceremony so that his assistants could get the television company responsible for hiring the helicopter to remove the aircraft from the skies.
Eventually after quite a bit of a delay, the wedding ceremony went ahead at the 300-year old St. Salvador Church, located deep in the heart of the 1,000 acre estate. Ms. Mills turned at the altar the requisite few minutes late and wore an ecru-lace dress she designed herself, while Sir. Paul was decked out in a brown three-piece suit with a rose buttonhole.

Shelter from intermittent showers and peering eyes was provided by a specially constructed covered walkway from the church to the castle. When the ceremony - conducted by the Church of Ireland Archdeacon of Clogher, the Venerable Cecil Pringle - was completed at approximately 5.15 pm, wedding bells echoed around the village.

Afterwards, the guests were treated to an Indian-theme vegetarian meal worth £500 a head. All told, 300 bottles of champagne - at £180 per bottle - were also made available to the guests plus 150 kegs of beer.

A number of bands helped keep the party going 'till around 1.30am when the couple and their guests viewed a spectacular fireworks display from a luxury yacht anchored on the Castle's lake. A hour later and the couple set off on a helicopter to begin their honeymoon.

And so ended a day which undoubtedly put all talk of Monaghan's troubles against Louth firmly in the shade. It was undoubtedly a day which will live in the memory of the good and great people of Glaslough for many years to come.

Taken from Monaghan's Match
December 2002