Water way to propose at Culdaff’s annual swim

YES I WILL!. . . .A delighted Fiona Rooney graciously accepts a proposal of marriage from Culdaff's Gregory McGuinness at the Annual Culdaff New Year's Day Swim yesterday! The happy couple came out of the water to a standing ovation from the gathered crowd. DER5314MC086 (Photo: Jim McCafferty)
YES I WILL!. . . .A delighted Fiona Rooney graciously accepts a proposal of marriage from Culdaff's Gregory McGuinness at the Annual Culdaff New Year's Day Swim yesterday! The happy couple came out of the water to a standing ovation from the gathered crowd. DER5314MC086 (Photo: Jim McCafferty)

A romantic and original marriage proposal was carried out at the annual New Year’s Day swim at Culdaff beach in Inishowen.

Culdaff man Gregory McGuinness popped the question to fiancee Fiona Rooney from Sligo, producing an engagement ring as they stood in the water.

Friends and family members also held up signs on his behalf asking: “Fiona Rooney, Will You Marry Me?”

There were cheers and tears as Fiona enthusiastically replied: “Of course!”

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, a relieved and “delighted” Gregory said he had been planning the proposal for “three quarters of a year.”

He had roped in family members to seek out a suitable ring, find out Fiona’s ring size and order the signs, and was keen to credit his sisters Maria and Jean.

Gregory - who is the son of Donegal County Councillor Bernard McGuinness - said while he was “nervous” the night before, it all melted away that morning and “the whole thing came together.”

He quipped he was more worried that the ring would fall out of his pocket and into the water.

He said: “My heart’s still racing. I had been planning it all for a while and wanted it to be a surprise. But I had a lot of my family and friends helping me. I wanted to do something different and had a few ideas but decided on the swim.”

Gregory, who lives with Fiona in Dublin, told how the proposal took place.

He said: “My sisters got the sign made - making sure her surname was included, just in case there were a few Fionas on the beach! They stood along the beach as we ran into the water. I had my hand in my pocket the whole time holding on to the ring in case it fell out.

“I saw they had the signs raised so I told Fiona to turn around. She saw it and started freaking out. I asked her: “Will you marry me?” and she said: “Of course, of course.” There were a lot of tears and everybody on the beach started cheering.”

Gregory said the occasion was a real family affair, with many waiting on the beach to congratulate the happy couple, including his brother Ross, who is home from Australia.

He said: “Everyone was hugging us while we were still in the water. It was great.”

Gregory said his phone has been “ringing off the hook” since the engagement and added he and his new fiancee were delighted with all the good wishes.