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Dancing with joy after wedding in Budapest

Catherine, her father Michael and three brothers.


TRADITIONAL Goulash soup, Hungarian chocolate cake and traditional Irish fruit cake were all on the menu when a former All-Ireland dance champion wed in Budapest last weekend.
Catherine Gallagher, daughter of Michael Gallagher and the late Kay Gallagher, Carrick, Carrigart, married Oliver Sakka in Saint Stephen’s Basilica.
The couple, who met in 2001, run their own Irish Dance company ‘Steps of the Celts’ and have toured all of Hungary and the neighboring countries with their productions, The Irish Dance Experience, Hollywood Dream and Queen of the Dance which they also took to Britian.
Catherine was joined in Budapest by her father Michael, Michael Patrick, Barry John and George Bernard together with guests from Ireland, England, France, USA, Canada, Egypt and Turkey.
Having won her first All Ireland title at just nine years of age, Catherine and her brothers took the professional route with Irish dance and she joined the Lagan company of Riverdance after completing her Leaving Certificate.
That led to two years touring the United States and Canada before she first got the opportunity to do some workshops in Budapest, Hungary. That was in September of 2000. Catherine takes up the story.
“I quickly fell in love with Budapest. I was teaching students from the age of 6-60. Everyone wanted to learn how to do this exotic style of dancing and many of them wanted to perform also. I ended up staying in the country and felt very at home here. The language wasn’t a barrier as most young people had learned English in school, so teaching through English was not a problem,” she said.
Within twelve months she met her future husband Oliver who had just earned his degree in Economy and Business. He knew nothing about Irish Dance, but before long he fell in love with both Catherine and Irish dance.
“We formed our own Irish dance company and he became my manager. He dealt with the financial and organisational part of the company and I managed the artistic and creative side of the business,” she explained.
The couple went on to create a large dance school in Budapest with other branches throughout the countryside.
On August 20 last year, Oliver proposed at the Budapest Marriott Hotel as the Fireworks display went off on the river Danube on what was the National Holiday of King Saint Stephen.
Oliver was born in Budapest. His mum Zsuzsanna Szegho is Hungarian while his father Hisham El-Sakka is Egyptian.
On Friday last the couple held their rehearsal in the Basilica before taking their guests on a Danube cruise. At 2pm Saturday June 10, Catherine’s father Michael walked his daughter down the long aisle.
The ceremony was bilingual in Hungarian and English led by Father Zoltan Marton. Catherine’s aunt Maire Gallagher read the gospel in English while the Ave Maria was sung by a famous Operetta singer.
After the ceremony the couple had to attend their local registry office as, in Hungary, the church wedding is not legally binding and it was there they officially became Mr and Mrs Sakka-Gallagher.
“We entered the ballroom of the Budapest Marriott that evening to a guard of honour from our guests. We decided to just have the two of us together at our table so we could see all our guests and have some special moments together,” she said.
During the course of the evening they had a traditional Hungarian ‘Smashing Cake’, where basically the groom has to smash the cake with a hammer into as many pieces as possible for good luck.
They had a fireworks display over the Danube at 10pm and the military had to be called in to put a halt to river traffic!
The couple danced their first dance to Gloria Gaynor’s, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.
Close to midnight the cakes were brought out, a total of three, one, a gifted Hungarian chocolate cake, one traditional Irish fruit cake made by Catherine’s aunt Mary Gallagher and a third, a 7 layer cake made in Hungary with each layer consisting of a different flavor. This had to be sliced with a large sword.
Later guests were entertained with a performance from Catherine and two of her dancers, dancing a medley of the most popular numbers from her shows.
“We were overwhelmed ourselves with the love and warmth from our guests and we would like to send a big thank you out to all of them. We have set up our lives in this beautiful city and we look forward to our future together,” Catherine said.

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