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Ex-nun says yes to wedding proposal

Published 23/05/2015

Katherine Zappone, left, and Ann Louise Gilligan pictured in 2006 outside Bow Street District Court in Dublin when they began efforts to have their Canadian-registered marriage recognised in Ireland
Katherine Zappone, left, and Ann Louise Gilligan pictured in 2006 outside Bow Street District Court in Dublin when they began efforts to have their Canadian-registered marriage recognised in Ireland

A former nun has said yes to a new wedding proposal from her partner.

Ann Louise Gilligan accepted the impromptu offer from Katherine Zappone, a senator in the Irish parliament, after she popped the question during a live television interview.

"I said yes to Katherine 12 years ago at our marriage in Canada," Ms Gilligan said.

"Now we are bringing the yes back home to Ireland, our country, yes, yes, yes."

The couple married in Canada in 2003 and went on to fight a series of unsuccessful legal battles in the Irish courts to have their union officially recognised by the state.

In front of hundreds of cheering well-wishers Ms Zappone asked her partner to re-marry her as she revealed her feelings on the momentous vote.

"I'm feeling emotional from the top all the way down to my toes," the senator said.

The couple's proposal was among other big questions popped during celebrations of the vote, some of which were documented on social media.

Ms Gilligan joined the Loreto order of nuns aged 17 in Ireland, in what she thought was a move that would give her an opportunity to change the world.

"But here I am with Katherine," she said.

"We are continuing our efforts, but together with the whole of Ireland. It's not just us, we have done this together.

"This has saved us from prejudice. Today we are free."

Ms Zappone, originally from Washington state in the US, arrived in Ireland with Ms Gilligan in 1983 and went on to become a chief executive of the National Women's Council of Ireland and a human rights commissioner.

She was appointed to the Seanad, the upper house of the Irish parliament, in 2011.

The couple, who have been together since 1981, are also co-founders of An Cosan, Ireland's largest community education organisation.

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