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Ireland's first same-sex marriage celebrated in health centre waiting room

Published 17/11/2015

New equality laws were signed into being following last May's sea-change referendum
New equality laws were signed into being following last May's sea-change referendum

The unlikely setting of a health centre waiting room was the backdrop for Ireland's historic first gay marriage.

Same-sex couples around the country rushed to exchange vows days after new equality laws were signed into being following last May's sea-change referendum.

Under the new legislation, couples already in a civil partnership can apply to be married within five days.

Barrister Cormac Gollogly, 35, from Terenure in Dublin, and banker Richard Dowling, 35, from Athlone, travelled to south Tipperary to be the first to tie the knot early on Tuesday morning.

The pair were already in a civil partnership, which they described as "really our wedding day", and celebrated with friends and family at Kilshane House on September 18.

They had to return to Tipperary to exchange new vows and seal their full marriage.

To make sure they weren't pipped at the post, they decided to go ahead with the formalities at Clonmel Community Care Centre where the registrar works rather than cross the road to a wedding venue.

"It feels really special, we feel so honoured and privileged to be not only the first but now that we actually are married as well," said Mr Dowling.

"The registrar knew it was so important to us (to be first) so she said will we just do it here.

"Having had the big, lavish ceremony in Kilshane in September, we didn't feel hard done by in that sense."

Before two witnesses and senior registrar Mary Claire Heffernan, the couple signed the register on a hospital trolley in the waiting area of the centre at around 8.30am.

The pair have been together since meeting 12 years ago in one of Dublin's main gay nightspots The George.

They got engaged after Mr Dowling proposed on a beach in Sitges, Spain, two years ago.

Having already honeymooned in The Maldives after their civil partnership ceremony, the newly-weds celebrated with lunch in Dublin with friends and family.

"It's been a whirlwind, it's been incredible," said Mr Gollogly.

"We are delighted to be the first to get married.

"When we were out celebrating the referendum result in May, everyone was saying it was like Ireland during Italia 90 (football tournament in 1990).

"Homosexuality was still illegal in Ireland at the time of Italia 90, so we are well aware of the changes in Ireland and it is great to be part of it."

Other same-sex couples in Cork and Donegal also turned up at registry offices during the morning to tie the knot.

Wayne Gough and David O'Hanlon, who have been together for nine years, exchanged vows again just two months after their civil partnership in Donegal.

"Today is really the final step in that process where now we can say as a couple that we are going to be a married couple and we are a married couple moving forward into our future," said Mr Gough.

"So I think all our guests and our family and friends who have joined us on this journey are just enjoying the fact that they are getting nearly two months of a wedding celebration."

Under the Marriage Act 2015, enacted last week during a ceremony at Dublin Castle, same-sex couples who were already married abroad automatically had their unions recognised in Ireland from midnight last Sunday.

Those who had applied for a civil partnership since the May referendum are being given the option of getting married instead.

Others will have to give the usual three months notice of intention to marry.

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