Six months after Ireland became the first country in the world to enact same-sex marriage by a vote of the people, two men have married each other in a simple celebration at a community centre. The nuptials, between Richard Dowling and Cormac Gollogly, took place at 8:30am on Tuesday, in Clonmel, County Tipperary, as November rain tipped down outside, the Irish Times reported.
The happy couple had already enjoyed a lavish civil partnership ceremony in September – complete with a honeymoon in the Maldives – and so opted for a scaled-down event, with no guests and only two women who work in the register office as witnesses.
But in order to become the first gay couple to marry in the previously strictly Catholic country, the grooms held the ceremony in a waiting room outside the registrar office at Clonmel's HSE Community Care Centre. They signed their historic wedding register on a hospital trolley belonging to the centre.
Gollogly, a barrister from Dublin who has been with Dowling for 12 years, told the Irish Times: "We didn't want to detract from the main ceremony and debated what to do. We decided to keep it simple and decided to have lunch with the families in Dublin." He added: "This is the icing on the cake." Dowling had proposed to him two years ago, on a beach in Spain as fireworks erupted.
Although the results of the referendum on same-sex marriage were revealed May 23, showing 62% of voters supported the change to the constitution, it has taken six months for the necessary legislative changes – in particular the Marriage Act 2015 – to be implemented before register offices could begin to officiate same-sex weddings.
Mary-Claire Heffernan, senior registrar for South Tipperary, who conducted the wedding of Dowling and Gollogly as well as their civil partnership ceremony, said before the occasion: "They kind of wanted to be the first so they have to do it as early as possible...they have been planning this for the last two weeks and waiting to see when we could do it." They were finally given the go-ahead Monday after the Marriage Act passed into law, enabling registration procedures.
Dowling, who works for a bank, added: "We are really delighted to be able to do it...having a full marriage was important to us so now we can relax and get old together."
Heffernan concluded the ceremony by telling the newlyweds: “Richard and Cormac are now going to seal their marriage with the giving and receiving of a ring. A ring is an unbroken circle – it has no beginning and no end. It symbolises unending and everlasting love and is an outward sign of the lifelong promise that you have made to each other.” And then the groom kissed the groom.