Claire Malone toured the world for 10 years with The Commitments and supported bands like the Black Eyed Peas, Arrested Development and Lou Reed.
But the biggest event of her life was to take place last Tuesday, her wedding day, and the person she wanted most was her beloved father John.
John (78), from Roscrea Co Tipperary and now living in Drumcondra, north Dublin, is currently being treated at the capital’s Mater Private Hospital for stage four cancer.
Claire was to marry the love of her life, Paddy Lynn, who is also the father of their two children, three-year-old son Maverick and one-year-old daughter Teddi.
The couple held a ceremony at the beautiful Seagrave Barn in Togher, County Louth. in Co Louth which was convenient as they live nearby.
“We did everything we could to get my dad there,” Claire explains.
“My dad is my best friend. We have a very special relationship. We spend a lot of time together.
“All I had done was try to bring him to my wedding. I destroyed the heads of the doctors. He comes and goes and I drive them absolutely crazy, we all know them so well.
“But it was about getting my dad back in shape for the day, and of course he went to hospital the previous Saturday and then I was there on Monday. Everything was ready, we were going to take him out on Tuesday morning, he was to receive another blood transfusion.
She had also made sure to take all the necessary precautions to protect her frail father.
“We had sent an email on Friday to everyone to do antigens, so there would be no Covid,” she explains.
“We actually lost about 30 guests to Covid in the five days leading up to it, which was so disappointing, but I thought ‘this is still the right thing to do’.”
Claire woke up early on Tuesday morning, July 12.
“I woke up around 5.30am, I couldn’t breathe, I was so anxious about the morning and the day ahead,” she recalls.
At 8:40 a.m., she received a call from the hospital.
“They said it wasn’t safe for him to go to the wedding because he kept clotting and he was losing blood so it wasn’t safe for him to go. “, she sighs.
“I just fell down. I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t stop crying.
“All I talked about going to the wedding was him betraying me. In my speech was “my biggest wish for today was for you to talk to me in the aisle, and that materialized”.
Claire’s mother, Lorraine, died 14 years ago and she has only one brother, Niall.
“For three hours I was literally on the ground crying. I walked out into the woods alone, talking out loud, praying to my mom, trying to manifest it to make this happen. Then it didn’t work , I collapsed, ”she says.
She then had to decide whether the outdoor wedding should go ahead or not.
“Literally about an hour and a half, two hours before I had to make a decision. Either I continue now, ”she confirms.
So she hatched a plan.
“The guys who run the venue set up a WiFi module in the woods so we would have a signal,” she beams. “My sister-in-law Geraldine, she had her phone on, and my dad sat down with one of the nurses at Mater Private, and he could watch it.”
She also had a lovely stand-in to walk her down the aisle.
“My mother’s two cousins, Attracta and Marion, I gave them a poem to read. So they came into the house towards me, and I always smell my mom when they’re there, so while we were taking a picture, I just looked at them and said ‘would you like to walk me down the aisle , and the two burst into tears, so everyone screamed for a good 45 minutes. So they accompanied me.
During the ceremony, his celebrant Karen stayed in touch with her father by phone.
“I also kept going on the phone saying ‘I love you dad’. A microphone was put up and he said ‘I know you know that’. Everyone was screaming and I was singing.
“It ended up being the most emotional day of my life, but it was just magical.”
The next day they continued the celebrations and returned home on Thursday.
On Friday morning, Claire and Paddy and their two children went to Mater Hospital.
“I came to the hospital and said, ‘I want my dad to see me. So they said ‘you can come here, we’ll organize a day room and all that'”, she notes.
“So we came in and changed into our wedding clothes and they brought dad out of his bedroom into the day room and all the nurses were standing behind him, with him looking at my wedding dress.
“Everyone was crying, it was so emotional, and he was just beaming, as he raised my hand to look at my wedding ring.”
Claire took on the role of Imelda May in The Commitments, originally played by Angeline Ball.
Original stars such as Dick Maskey, Ken McCluskey and Michael Ahern were regular outsiders, with singer Joe Walsh replacing Andrew Strong.
“One of our best moments was playing on St. Patrick’s Day at the White House for George Bush,” Claire admits.
“We’ve been around the world. That was us, we’re not trying to be just anybody. I look back, I was like ‘this is my life, traveling the world’.
Claire now sings in a band called Gossip.
“We are flat now after two years of doing nothing because of Covid,” she adds. “We make ceremonial music for weddings and funerals. We do everything from Adele to Guns ‘N Roses.