Stars flock to Mayo village for Rory and Erica's wedding day
Not since John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara strolled down Cong's Main Street for the 1951 epic The Quiet Man has the Co Mayo village seen such excitement as that over the wedding of golf superstar Rory McIlroy.
The Irishman (27) will tomorrow wed his American fiancee Erica Stoll (29) in a ceremony at 13th century Ashford Castle marked as much by its sumptuous arrangements as by the tight security around the 350-acre estate.
The castle was strictly off-limits yesterday to all but invited guests.
Private security officials were stationed at all entrances to the sprawling estate outside Cong village - and access beyond the outer limits was strictly by special security wristband only.
Around Ashford Castle, a small army of caterers and wedding planners were hard at work.
Even teams of street cleaners were working to have all approach routes to Ashford Castle spotless.
One local was adamant he spotted the golfer driving through the village on Wednesday afternoon in a Porsche.
Locals also said the golfer and his friends relaxed yesterday with some clay pigeon shooting in the Ashford Castle grounds.
US pop star Stevie Wonder was scheduled to fly into Ireland last night to perform at the wedding. The celebration is expected to prove a who's who.
Rumoured guests include pop star Niall Horan, a good friend of McIlroy, as well as Chris Martin from Coldplay.
Ed Sheeran is also a pal of the golfer but any visit to the wedding will be limited by the fact the singer-songwriter has scheduled concerts in Manchester.
The sporting world is expected to be represented by golfers Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and other Irish members of the Ryder Cup team.
Martial arts star Conor McGregor is also expected to attend having joined the golfer on his Miami stag party.
Gerry Collins, founder of The Quiet Man Museum and film location walking tours, said the wedding will be "a tourism bonanza for Cong".
"There is already a great atmosphere around the village and even the tourists, who are here for the local beauty and The Quiet Man sites, are asking about the big wedding," he said. "Pierce Brosnan got married here in Cong as well so this is a special place for celebrity weddings."