History was made yesterday when Cormac Gollogly and Richard Dowling, who have been together for 12 years, became the first same-sex couple to wed under Ireland’s newly established marriage equality legislation.
Gollogly and Dowling tied the knot to the fullest extent of the law at 8:40am yesterday morning, in a brief ceremony in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, presided over by senior county registrar Mary-Claire Heffernan, who had also officiated at the couple’s civil partnership ceremony earlier this year. It took place in the waiting room of the Clonmel Community Care Center, and the couple used a hospital trolley to sign the paperwork.
The couple, both 35, are from Dublin and Athlone. Gollogly is a barrister and Dowling works for Allied Irish Bank. They met at The George, a famous gay nightclub in Dublin, 12 years ago and have been together ever since, they told the Irish Times.
Dowling proposed to Gollogly two years ago in September, on a beach in Spain and they began planning their big day. Delighted with the Yes vote for marriage equality in May’s public referendum, it was still uncertain when the legislation would be signed in to law, so they kept the date for the civil partnership ceremony they had planned for September 18 of this year. They celebrated their union with 128 family members and friends at Kilshane House in Tipperary, and a honeymoon in the Maldives followed.
Because they already had a civil partnership, Gollogly and Dowling were able to skip the typical three month waiting period and hold their marriage ceremony five days after registering.
“It was nice to be like everyone else,” Dowling told the New York Times.
“When you grow up you don’t want to be part of a civil partnership, you want to be married. Today was about recognizing what we would have wanted to have on Sept. 18.”
Elsewhere in Ireland, more couples wed on the historic first day of marriage equality.
Wayne Gough and DJ O’Hanlon, 40 and 41, from Co. Louth, held a small ceremony at the beautiful Harvey’s Point Hotel, overlooking Lough Eske in Donegal – it was the same spot where Gough proposed to O’Hanlon in 2014 and where they held their larger civil ceremony earlier this year.
Darren and Tony Day, from Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland, held their civil ceremony in Co. Monaghan last weekend and then held a short ceremony yesterday to make it official. Same sex marriage is not yet legal in Northern Ireland, but the Days said they still considered themselves officially wed.
"It's been lovely to exchange our vows and to make it official, to finally be able to call each other husband and husband," Darren told the BBC.
"But Tony was joking that we would only be able to do that for 10 minutes until we went back over the [Irish] border.
"As far as we're concerned, we're married – we got married on this island."
However, some couples were caught unawares by the five day waiting period and were unable to wed yesterday as they had planned.
Dolores Murphy and Mabel Stoop Murphy, who live in Cork, had planned to tie the knot at the Cork Registry Office at lunchtime yesterday and then have a quiet celebration with their two-year-old son James and their witnesses.
Cork's Dolores Murphy & Mabel Stoop-Murphy will become one of 1st samesex couples in Eire to wed today. More after 9 pic.twitter.com/o0ril2tlFB— Neil Prendeville (@NeilRedFM) November 17, 2015
Before the ceremony could take place, the Cork General Registrar contacted the office to say that the couple had only signed their intention to dissolve their civil partnership for a legal marriage that morning and would need to wait four more days before holding their marriage ceremony.
“We are devastated. Absolutely heartbroken. This was supposed to be the best day of our lives. And as usual the Government let us down again. It is beyond ridiculous,” Murphy told the Irish Times, adding that they should have been informed of the requirement when they booked the appointment last week.
The couple will reschedule their marriage date.