Ex-Carer of the Year spruces up 27-year-old army uniform to wed fellow carer

An 83-year-old army veteran celebrated his wedding day in his old uniform to make his new bride’s wishes come true.

Peter Riordan, a father-of-10 and former carer of the year, walked up the aisle with Terry Healy on Saturday afternoon in the same military suit he wore when commissioned into the Defence Forces in 1961.

His 63-year-old wife insisted he seek permission to wear the uniform after seeing it hanging in a wardrobe in his house in Naas, Co Kildare.

The couple, both of whom have dedicated much of their lives to looking after others, wed at a ceremony at St Brigid’s Church in Kill on Saturday afternoon.

“Terry actually pestered me until I looked into seeing if I was allowed to wear it,” he said. “And it fits like a glove. I’m about 10 stone, and I’m 5’8”, I’ve shrunk a bit but thanks be to God it hasn’t upset the trousers too much.“

Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Conor O’Boyle gave Mr Riordan permission to wear his uniform for the big day while the army also ensured it was in pristine condition replacing an old lanyard on a lapel.

Mr Riordan served in the engineers corps and did one tour of duty in Cyprus in 1969-70. The rest of his 25 year service was spent in Clancy barracks, Islandbridge, Dublin and in the Curragh in order to be near his first wife Eithne, who died in 2006, and his children, who he dedicated much of his life caring for.

At 56, Mr Riordan took early retirement from the army to look full time after their children including now 37-year-old son Ronan, who has Down’s Syndrome.

He was rewarded for his dedication in 2012 by being named Ireland’s Carer of the Year after his new bride Terry put him forward for the honour.

“In the course of the national award, we began to realise that there was more to us than just helpers,” he said. “I offered to buy her dinner but under the rules for carers we weren’t allowed. But when I won the award the first thing I did was to turn around and give her a big kiss.”

The ex-soldier said his new love, who had not been married before, has given him a new lease of life and he is now aiming to reach 100.

“With this lassie now it’s a new life. I feel a totally different man now since we got together,” he said.

Pointing to his beaming bride he said: “People are always asking me ’why are you always smiling’, well there you go.”

Mr Riordain proposed opposite Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin after the couple had been caring together for two of his son’s for several years.

They will spend a short honeymoon relaxing in Co Kildare for a few days before travelling to Inis Mor for a days.

The dedicated carer and father spent the eve of his wedding making a stockpile of special gluten free bread for Ronan.

And speaking about his uniform he said: “I think she was right, it’s so much better than a dress suit.”

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