Love was in the air on a fine October day in the heart of Co. Mayo as TV presenter Eibhlín Ní Chonghaile and her fiancé Alan, prepped for their special wedding day alongside their three beautiful children. The beauty of it all was that the entire wedding day took place in their family home, Mount Falcon Estate! Our real wedding couple are proud owners of one of our favourite wedding venues, and after 13 happy years together the two decided to tie the knot in the place that means everything to them. Their joyfully relaxed nuptials were captured by Michael Pajkert, and we invite you swoon over their heatwarming love story, as you peek inside their love-filled family wedding day.
Eibhlín, who has spent the last 23 years gracing our TV screens on every channel from TG4 and RTE to Virgin Media and Raidio na Gaeltachta covering news and current affairs, reveals that it all began on Ladies Day at the Galway Races. Her partner Alan Maloney, who is co-owner of Mount Falcon Estate walked up to her at the bar, and while they eventually lost each other in the crowd they did manage to exchange cards. Eibhlín admits it was a modicum of stubborness which meant she didn’t make contact until Christmastime to wish him a Happy Christmas. He invited her down to Mount Falcon to stay with a friend, and after a wonderful dinner, he asked her to meet him in the drawing room later that night where they enjoyed tea and toast in front of a roaring fire. This was the moment that would set her on the path to love, three beautiful children and eventually a home wedding on their 100-estate surrounded by family and friends!
As for the proposal, that takes us to Santorini under a full moon. “He’d been acting quite strange and leaving the table quite a lot that evening,” says Eibhlín. “Of course, I found out afterwards that he was trying to get through to my father in Connemara to seek his approval. I was seven and a half months pregnant with my daughter Ally and I remember feeling so fortunate. The next day we joined friends and family on an archaeological cruise of the Mediterranean, so it was a great start to the rest of our lives and terribly romantic,” she says.
Fast forward, to their wedding day which they describe as a very relaxed and untraditional affair. “It was a wonderful gathering of the most important people in our lives, filled with love, laughter and a few tears, but happy ones!” they say. Even though the couple welcomes many engaged couples each year to their impressive wedding venue, getting married themselves was never on the cards until the pandemic hit. “We never intended to have a traditional wedding ceremony at home, but after the last three years, we decided it was time to celebrate with the people we love,” says Eibhlín.
The most memorable part of the wedding day for bride Eibhlín was walking down the stairs with her dad Máirtín and feeling like she was stepping into a room of love and goodwill! “Having our children with us on the day is what made it truly special for us. Just thinking of the day makes me emotional. Our families flew in from all around the world to be with us and it meant the world to us,” she adds.
As Van Morrison’s song Days Like This began to play, the beautiful bride made her way down the staircase, ready to embark on her next chapter. The song holds incredible meaning to not only Eibhlín but Alan too. “It’s our family song and it truly means something to Alan, me and the children. The line, ‘My mama told me there would be days like this’ was particularly poignant because neither of us has our beautiful mothers with us any longer,” she says.
The day was everything and more for the couple. However, the Irish weather unsurprisingly didn’t behave. Thankfully Eibhlín and Alan’s plan B, turned out to be more special. “The only thing that didn’t go right on the day was the weather. We were hoping to do the ceremony outside on the spectacular front lawn. Alan set the chairs out and just as I was supposed to leave the suite it started to rain. We delayed things by 30 minutes to see if the rain would stop and everyone was happy enough milling around with Champagne. In hindsight coming down the stairs into the foyer where we held the ceremony instead was stunning. And of course, seeing Alan shed a tear as his children approached him.”
Eibhlín and Alan had a spiritualist ceremony and their children had a very important role in the big day. With the helping hands – literally – of their little ones, they chose a symbolic handfasting ritual ceremony in which Eibhlín and Alan stood face to face as the children tied their hands together. “The brehon cord consisted of three ropes, a white rope which stood for clarity and beauty that represented our daughter Ally. The blue rope stood for depth and character and represented Finn, and the golden rope stood for sunshine and happiness which represented our youngest Seán,” Eibhlín explains.
To infuse even more family sentiment into the day, Alan spent weeks looking for his late father’s favourite poem, which he knew he had safely stashed in his files somewhere in his office. It is a poem by Middle Eastern poet Kahlil Gibran. When he found it, the couple couldn’t believe it was called The Marriage – the perfect ceremony reading!
Mount Falcon holds a very special place in the family’s hearts. “It is now an integral part of our lives. Our children are growing up here and we know every tree and every fern-filled corner. Getting married here felt both natural and special,” they say. “The house was originally built as a wedding gift by Ultred Knox in 1876 for his beautiful young bride Nina. So one could say that historically it was built on love!”
Of course, we have to mention the very important guests – or should we say residents – who were a big part of the newlywed’s special day. The falcons, hawks and owls who all live on the estate made sure to stop by to wow guests big and small on the day with a falconry experience.
Mount Falcon Estate is known as a relaxing, luxurious, and very romantic wedding venue nestled in Ballina, Co. Mayo in the beautiful West of Ireland. The newlyweds, hosted the evening reception, alongside 180 of their nearest and dearest in the estate’s Marrakech bamboo tent, which was situated idyllically on the lawn. “We’ve had so many magical nights in there, so we decided to hold our wedding there and delay bringing the tent down for the season for a week!”
The reception tables were garnished with gold cutlery, gold-rimmed crockery and gilded candelabras dressed beautifully with green foliage and ivory blooms abd baby’s breath. The ceilings featured garlands bursting with greenery and twinkling lights that came to life at night! The stationery included special touches such as illustrations of the venue and beautiful calligraphy with the old Irish proverb ‘Níl aon leigheas ar an ngrá ach pósadh!’ which translates as ‘There is no cure for love but marriage!1
Eibhlín looked radiant in her sweetheart-shaped Rachel Gilbert wedding gown with a flattering peplum silhouette, was beautifully offset by her exquisite white orchid bouquet. As for the bridal shoes, Eibhlín advises brides to buy comfortable. “I spent so much money on designer shoes, and they were so uncomfortable that I had to change them after the ceremony! After all, it’s the one time in your life you really don’t need the most expensive pair,” she says with a laugh.
On the wedding day music echoed through the grounds and the halls from the moment guests arrived until 4am in the morning. Alan and Eibhlin had several bands, including musicians who had been working alongside them all summer including the Doocey Brothers of Foxford. “It’s actually hard to find a photograph I’m not laughing in!” says the bride as she recalls the day.
Tom Doyle, head chef at Mount Falcon made them proud on the day with his drool-worthy display of top-class cuisine featuring the best of local fare from aged venison to West Coast lobster and crab.
As the sun set, the tent lit up with love and romantic pink hues! The brass band kicked off the evening entertainment by welcoming the newlyweds to the stage to share their first dance as husband and wife to Sunshine by Steve Azar – sung by their friend and musician, Greg Pearle. The couple concluded the night with a display of fireworks that lit up the sky and their beautiful home.
A very special thank you to Eibhlín Ní Chonghaile and Alan Maloney for sharing their wonderful Mount Falcon Estate wedding day with One Fab Day.
Don’t leave without checking out these gorgeous autumn-inspired wedding cakes, flowers and invites here!