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Stars say I do to suite dreams at Ireland's top wedding retreat; EXCLUSIVE LOVE CASTLE IS STORMED.


LIKE most girls, I dream of marrying Mr Right in a glamorous setting.

And, of course, that first night should be as romantic and sexy as a scene from a Hollywood movie.

But the fantasy ends there. Call me selfish, but the thought of putting the white dress in mothballs and settling down with a mortgage is like Cinderella finding that pumpkin parked outside the ballroom.

I'd much rather skip marriage and just enjoy the wedding.

So it was only fair that my first romp in a romantic bridal suite should be with...myself.

And where better to turn into Bridezilla than in a room chosen by some of the biggest egos in showbiz to bed their brides?

It doesn't get glitzier than a lavish suite in an 800-year-old castle in the heart of the Irish countryside.

The EUR180-a-night O'Carroll Suite in Kinnitty Castle, Co Offaly, is just oozing with A-list sex appeal and good old-fashioned romance.

This summer it will host weddings for the two of the biggest names in showbiz - ex-Pogues wildman Shane MacGowan and former Boyzone star Shane Lynch.

Lynch will spend his first official night of passion with long-time girlfriend Sheena White in August.

And legendary hell-raiser MacGowan plans to wed fiancee Victoria Mary Clarke in a "Glastonbury-style" do this summer.

The suite came recommended by ex-Boyzone star Shane's sister, Edel, who got married at the castle last summer.

Owner Con Ryan said: "Shane was bowled over by the place when he came here for his sister's wedding." The hunk had just fled Celebrity Love Island after being stalked by sex-crazed supermodel Sophie Anderton.

And in the castle's banqueting hall, he found romance again - when he rekindled his relationship with lovely Sheena.

Con said: "Shane and Sheena were bound to fall in love again - but the castle might have helped. It's such a romantic place.

"There have been so many fairytale weddings between these walls, it's bound to rub off on people "If you're meant to be together, you'll feel it here."

And born-again Christian Shane Lynch is not the only one who has felt the love in the castle.

It had the same effect on Shane MacGowan who might not be the first person who springs to mind when you think of wedding cakes and dresses - but there's nothing like a castle to turn a punk into a prince.

MacGowan will show his tender side when he and Victoria Mary Clarke crown their whirlwind romance in the same room next September.

Mr Ryan added: "Victoria chose the castle. But Shane is apparently a real romantic too, under that hard image."

The couple are planning a banquet for hundreds of friends. But Victoria won't be splashing out on an expensive couture dress. She recently revealed she had already bought it - in a charity shop for EUR10.

And, with MacGowan whispering sweet nothings on the pillow, blushing bride Victoria won't be short of the "something blue".

There must be something about that room, because Def Leppard's Joe Elliott had a marathon lovemaking session with Christine Wunchell after their wedding in 2004.

And Ozzy Osborne's son Louis consummated his marriage to Louise there on New Year's Day, 2003.

I thought I'd do the two Shanes and their brides a favour - and warm up the bed for them.

While I was at it, I tried the bath for size as well. There was no point in getting wet with no one to rub the suds in - but with a bottle of Champagne on hand, I was bubbly enough.

And I felt very aristocratic as I lay back on the chaise longue and thought of...well, Ireland, and how romantic it can be.

I gazed out the huge windows over the rolling countryside - it was very rock and roll. Horses cantered gracefully across a paddock, expensive cars purred up the drive, birds chirped and the smell of freshly-cut flowers filled the room.

Ah, this was the life, I thought, as I tried to imagine myself as the bride of a Hollywood A-lister or a charttopping pop star.

My passion was unbridled as I frolicked around on the king-sized bed.

Naturally, I kept my heels on - shoes go with my Cinderella fantasy, and anyway my feet are hideous.

I also thought I might need those stilettos if I found myself next to Shane MacGowan first thing in the morning.

The dentally-challenged rocker is fine once you're at the safe end of a radio, but he might be an acquired taste under the sheets - even if I let him get past the "Now you can kiss the bride" bit.

I was glad I got a chance to try out the bed before he got into it. But my unkind thoughts were interrupted by the feeling that someone was feeling that someone was watching me. Con had told me the ghost of a monk always turns up at wedding receptions. He is believed to have haunted the place ever since his abbey was razed to the ground and replaced by the castle in 1209.

He said: "He mingles with the crowd at the banquet in the Great Hall. We think he's drawn by the happy atmosphere of the people celebrating."

Wedding co-ordinator Mary Smith - who is getting married in the castle in November - said the monk is not the least bit snobby.

She added: "We don't just do celebrity weddings here - anyone can get married in the castle."

The monk is just as happy among people who paid EUR65-a-head for the set wedding menu as those who spoil themselves with a feast that can cost anything.

I reckoned the old monk had got a bit curious after all these years of celibacy - and wanted to see what it was like in the bridal suite.

I was sure Shane MacGowan wouldn't mind - he's well-known to be fond of the old spirits.

But my monk fantasy vanished as quickly as the bubbles in the Champagne glass, when I remembered that I was being photographed.

Now at last I knew what it felt like to be a star. Blasted paparazzi!

Naturally, I had to call in the bouncers - but not before I'd had one last bounce on the bed.

Still, there's only so much romping around a girl can do with a bridegroom, so I reluctantly kissed the room goodbye - until I find my Mr Perfect.

The pampering doesn't end there - the castle has a luxury spa which is open to day visitors too.

After all that Champagne-cork popping, what better way to relax than in a hot tub or jacuzzi, sobering up in a civilised way with herbal teas or fresh fruit smoothies while a team of therapists massage and beautify you.

Just in case all that VIP-style pampering is going to your head, the spa also has a lifecoach on hand and meditation classes.

But you can really feel like king and queen of the castle by going for a canter round the demesne and taking a lesson in falconry.

I toyed with the idea of hanging around until evening, when the bar is full of locals - including actor Patrick Bergin.

While the memory of him in Sleeping With the Enemy was enough to put me off marriage - the bridal suite had given me a real taste for it.


Flower girl...Geraldine takes time out to relax outside the ever-popular Kinnitty Castle; Grape escape.. Mirror girl Geraldine relaxes in the O'Carroll Suite at Kinnitty Castle in Co Offaly PICTURES: Barbara Lindberg; Reunited...Shane Lynch and Sheena White will wed this August; Dry run...Luxury tub is one of the attractions, as Geraldine discovers; Dishy...Choose from extensive menu; Grass act...View to a thrill; Fairytale...Shane and Victoria Mary Clarke; Gin and bear it...Geraldine relaxes in the castle's bar
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 22, 2007
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