A mother who bought a Communion dress encrusted with diamonds and laid on a horse-drawn carriage for her daughter's Lolita's Communion has defended the lavish expense.
Tracey Hannifin (31) hit back at comments from Dublin Minister Mary Hanafin who criticised Communion 'brides' who attend their religious event in high heels and arrive in carriages.
However, despite the Minister's shock at the trend, Tracey insisted that families should be allowed to celebrate the day in any way they wish.
Tracey added that she wanted to treat her daughter Lolita on the special day and denies that her plans were excessive.
She added that she had been planning the day in her mind for years, and has worked since January to get the theme right for Lolita's big day.
"I knew from a long time ago that I was going to go all-out, but my full decision came around January.
"I made the first trip over to Liverpool to get the dress made then, and it was the week before the Communion that I got the dress," says Tracey.
"I got it made with diamond horseshoes all over the dress, and the hat went with the dress then.
"She's a big fan of horses. We have a lot of horses at home because my husband breeds them, so I decided to get a carriage.
"And we saw the Jordan carriage and loved it," she added.
"I wanted the pumpkin carriage and I was trying so hard but I couldn't come across the carriage in England.
"Eventually I got it in Dublin.
"I wanted a crown on top of the carriage because Lolita's dad got her a Rolex which also has diamonds on it," revealed Tracey.
Tracey, from Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, says all her hard work was worth it when she saw the reaction on Lolita's face, and all the spectators.
"She couldn't talk. It was a surprise for her.
"She was just waiting to get into the jeep with us when she saw the carriage.
"My family thought it was hilarious because they know she's crazy about horses."
Tracey said that her efforts caused a great stir in Longford town on Saturday, May 9.
"People enjoyed it. At the church we had people taking photos. One gentleman was 80 years of age and he had a photo taken on it. I had no problem with people enjoying it.
"No one beeped at us on the way but there were cameras galore -- there was even a couple of people recording the whole thing.
"She went around the town a second time so the street was well-crowded then."
However, such spectacles recently led to Mary Hanafin questioning if something could be done to define what was in the best interests of the children, after a child constituent went to the church is high heels and a horse and carriage.
Tracey said she disagreed with people who discourage flamboyant efforts on their children's Communion day, because she said it's up to the individuals themselves.
"For anyone turning around and saying that people shouldn't go to such lengths, I don't think that's fair. People can be very judgmental.
"I think if people are judging me and they're saying 'she's going overboard,' I honestly recommend that they come and talk to me first.
"Lolita is not spoiled, I didn't bring her up that way.
"If someone wants to fly an airplane into a church, they can, or if they want to go in limos they can, I think they're brilliant.
"The photos are brilliant, they're something that a child will have for life."
A spokesperson for Pavee Point said: "It's a very special day for all Catholics. The Minister is entitled to her own views and the children are entitled to celebrate their Holy Communion whatever way they want, whether they're Travellers or settled people."