Belfast Telegraph

First pictures from Rory McIlroy wedding - beaming mum and dad at Ashford Castle

Rory McIlroy has married American girlfriend Erica Stoll at a lavish ceremony at Ashford Castle.

The Holywood golfer was joined by a host of top names and celebrities, including One Direction's Niall Horan, along with fellow player Sergio Garcia.

Guests arrived at the venue in Cong, Co Mayo by helicopter and luxury cars on Saturday, before making their way up the winding path to Ashford Castle.

The wedding in the 13th century castle was a who's who of Irish sport, showbusiness and financial worlds, with the 200-plus wedding guests set to be entertained by US pop star Stevie Wonder.

A spectacular fireworks display was set to be staged on Saturday night to celebrate the wedding.

The guests include One Direction star Niall Horan, and Mr McIlroy's Irish Ryder Cup team-mates including Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Shane Lowry.

Coldplay's Chris Martin and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran were tipped to attend but they had not arrived at Ashford Castle on Friday night.

The newly crowned US Masters champion, Sergio Garcia, was also thought to be among the guests.

Read more: A-list guests arrive for golf star Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll's wedding

It's understood Rory and Erica Stoll will spend their first night as a married couple in a lavish £3,000-a-night suite at Ashford Castle.

Heading up the the big day, locals admitted they were thrilled with the focus on the picturesque village.

"It is great for Cong, great for Mayo and great for the west of Ireland," admitted Aisling Butler who runs The Hungry Monk cafe with Jonathan Byrne. "Everyone is keeping their eyes peeled for a celebrity - and, to mark the occasion, I was even thinking of selling golf balls in the cafe with morning coffee."

Aisling's cafe is already a popular haunt with Irish celebrities, boasting regular visitors including Daniel O'Donnell, The Hardy Bucks, Pippa O'Connor and Connacht rugby stars.

Local man Paddy Rock, who founded the Cong Hands of Fame Award, said the golfer's contribution to the area is such that he is now being invited to immortalise himself by having his hand imprint set in bronze on the monument.

Locals raced for their cameras on Friday afternoon as a vintage wedding car - with the fitting license plate '2R1' - drove through the town towards Ashford Castle.

Mr McIlroy's management team have worked overtime to ensure the wedding details remain top secret from the large media entourage which has descended on Cong.

Ashford Castle staff, famed for their discretion given the hotel's celebrity clientele, refused any comment on the wedding celebrations.

However, guests will be feted by gourmet cuisine over the four-day wedding from Ashford Castle's award-winning chef, Philippe Farineau.

The castle went into full security lockdown on Friday morning as the last of the non-wedding guests left.

Special security wristbands were issued to allow access to the 350-acre estate until Monday morning when the wedding party formally ends.

Three separate layers of security were in place around the estate including perimeter patrols.

Mr McIlroy's personal security chief, Brian Murphy, who also works with U2, was supervising arrangements at the castle perimeter.

Staff at Ashford Castle have been issued with green wristbands - while other colours will designate wedding organising staff, security and entertainers.

Roving security patrols were also in place around the sprawling estate to deal with photographers who may want to try and get a snap of the celebrity couple and their VIP guests.

Special measures have also been taken to prevent drones equipped with cameras from flying over the estate.

A large marquee was erected outside the castle, though the majority of the wedding ceremonies are happening inside the huge luxury hotel.

The lavish four-day wedding celebration is understood to cost between €250,000 (£208, 895) and €500,000 (£417, 779) - with Ashford Castle and virtually all hotels and guest houses in nearby Cong completely booked out for the wedding.

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