Ally’s monumental moment

Naomi Kennedy and Ally McIlroy celebrate their engagement overlooking Edinburgh on the Scott Monument. Photo: Phil Wilkinson

Naomi Kennedy and Ally McIlroy celebrate their engagement overlooking Edinburgh on the Scott Monument. Photo: Phil Wilkinson

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IT is one of the most romantic spots in the city – if you don’t mind sharing it with a constant stream of tourists.

But being interrupted wasn’t a concern for one couple on their extra-special visit to the Scott Monument.

The landmark was the location chosen by Ally McIlroy to pop the question to his girlfriend Naomi Kennedy just two days before Christmas.

Romantic Ally made special arrangements with the city council to keep the monument open an extra hour after it was closed to the rest of the public so he and Naomi could have the venue all to themselves.

Despite it being the last thing Naomi wanted to do after walking about Edinburgh all day, she fortunately agreed to her boyfriend’s suggestion of climbing the monument on December 23.

When the couple, from Northern Ireland, entered the museum room, they were greeted by candles, Champagne and rose petals – which had been organised by Ally and his brother Gareth who lives in Granton – but still Naomi did not have a clue what was going on.

Naomi, 23, said: “The last thing I wanted to do was walk up a bunch of stairs.

“Because it was dark, it didn’t really dawn on me when I saw the candles in the room and I just thought they were supposed to be there because it was Christmas.

“There was Champagne and glasses and rose petals and I just didn’t know what was going on – he caught me completely off guard.

“It was beautiful. Silent Night was playing outside and it was just magical.

“I didn’t want to leave Edinburgh after that, I just love it here.”

Ally, from Ballymena, spent months planning the romantic gesture for Naomi, but was a nervous wreck before carrying out the proposal as there were still so many things that could go wrong.

The 23-year-old, who works in schools and community centres as a sports coach, said: “Me and Naomi have been to Edinburgh at least twice before and we feel it’s like a home away from home for us.

“We really love the city and the atmosphere around Christmas and I thought it would be a good time of year to propose as Christmas is Naomi’s favourite time of year.

“I thought about doing it at the Castle or the ice rink but thought that would be too crowded and I wanted something a bit more intimate so I e-mailed the council and asked about the Scott Monument.

“I was so nervous and had to kill time walking about as we had to be there after it was closed to the public at 4pm.

“It was a really nervous build-up to it.”

He added: “We climbed the monument and walked about halfway up to the museum room, where all the candles and champagne were set up. It went perfectly.”

Councillor Deidre Brock, the city’s culture and leisure leader, sent congratulations to the happy couple on behalf of Edinburgh. She said: “What a lovely idea to pop the question at the Scott Monument.

“It’s one of Edinburgh’s most striking landmarks, commanding breathtaking views.

“Huge congratulations to Ally and Naomi, we wish them all the very best for a long and happy life together.”