'A magnificent day': Dolores O'Riordan's memorable wedding recalled

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery

Dolores O’Riordan is led here by Mick Tobin, who was in charge of Dessie the white horse on the day of Dolores and Don’s wedding Picture: Press 22

Dolores O’Riordan is led here by Mick Tobin, who was in charge of Dessie the white horse on the day of Dolores and Don’s wedding Picture: Press 22

THE DAY Dolores O’Riordan got married, the weather was beautiful.

Dolores arrived at Holycross Abbey, Tipperary, in July 1994, in a simple, open-top cart, pulled by a white horse owned by Bansha man Con Marnane.

Canadian groom Don Burton rode up with his best man on two black horses. The quirky wedding captivated the local and national media.

“They came into our house, they told me what they would like, and asked if I could do it for them, and I did it for them. It was an amazing day,” said Con Marnane, who operates a stable in Bansha.

“It was a business I used to do at the time, on weekends. I used to do Dromoland Castle weddings, Ashford Castle weddings, Dundrum House Hotel weddings.

“I had a couple of carriages, but Dolores wanted this white horse with a white car, just a plain Irish common car, and we had to have it painted,” he remembered fondly.

Dolores, then aged just 22, arrived on the cart wearing a transparent wedding dress, lace see-through trousers and knee high lace-up boots.

Seated in a bed of voile and wildflowers, the Ballybricken bride had a long veil draped over her head and toted a huge bunch of white roses and baby’s breath, with the treble clef symbol, in purple, embedded in the bouquet.

Students from her old school, Laurel Hill Colaiste FCJ, sang at the rock and roll wedding, the beginning of a marriage that would last 20 years.

“The cart was old-fashioned, and she had dried flowers on it. It was just lovely, really unusual but very nice. I think the white horse was called Dessie. We don’t know where Dessie is gone now,” said Con.

Dolores’ horse and cart were led by another Bansha man, Mick Tobin.

“The cart was painted white, I can’t remember if we painted it or if Dolores painted it – she might have done it herself,” said Con.

“She was very relaxed and she was having a good old chat with us on the day.

“It was very well-organised, we knew exactly what we were doing at every stage, and I had great help with me there.”

Con also owned the two black horses, Hank and Nelson, used by the groom – who had no previous riding experience.

“I had to teach Don and the best man how to ride, so they came out to me beforehand to get a few lessons. They didn’t know how to ride at all before that, but they picked it up very very quickly.

“Nelson is actually still doing cossack riding. He must be about 35 years of age now. He was in a show last year, a night time show with the lights and riders. He still looks absolutely fantastic,” said Con.

“It was just an amazing day, and the weather was lovely. Holycross looked magnificent. We didn’t stay on all day, we had horses to get home, we had a load of work. There were a lot of people following the cart, everyone wanted to be involved.”

“It was just nice and relaxed, and unusual. She was a lovely lovely lady, Lord have mercy on her.

“It’s very sad. I was shocked when I heard. She was a fabulous woman. She’ll always be a legend.”