Thursday 29 September 2016

After 13 years, the brides finally get to tie knot on Irish soil

Published 23/01/2016 | 02:30

Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan at their wedding ceremony in City Hall, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan at their wedding ceremony in City Hall, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Dark clouds parted and the sun peeped through as Senator Katherine Zappone and her long-term partner Dr Ann Louise Gilligan wed in Dublin yesterday.

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The couple - who have been at the front line of the battle for equal marriage rights - got engaged on live television after Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote last May.

Sabina Higgins, Katherine Zappone, Ann Louise Gilligan and President Michael D Higgins during Zappone and Gilligan’s wedding ceremony at City Hall, Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Sabina Higgins, Katherine Zappone, Ann Louise Gilligan and President Michael D Higgins during Zappone and Gilligan’s wedding ceremony at City Hall, Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

And President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina were among the first to congratulate the newlyweds as they returned to City Hall to make it official yesterday.

As they prepared to say 'I Do' for a second time - the couple have already been married for more than a decade under Canadian law - Independent Senator Zappone joked about how the couple had defied the rain on their Irish big day.

"It's a beautiful day in every sense," she beamed.

Eschewing traditional white, the politician donned a floor-sweeping black sequinned gown, while her wife, a retired university lecturer, was equally ravishing in a full-length red lace frock and cream faux fur shrug.

The pair - who met at Boston College - have been together for the past 35 years and tied the knot in Vancouver in 2003. In 2004, they unsuccessfully sought recognition in the High Court for their Canadian marriage.

Posing for a snap with the happy couple, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: "I wish them the very best. They've been trailblazers, really, and we saw the Irish people respond (to that). "

Glamorous guests began filing into the illustrious Dame Street venue about an hour before the ceremony as singer Brian Kennedy did a quick sound-check.

But there was no waiting around for the brides, who greeted family and friends inside before exchanging vows at around 4pm.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Labour TD John Lyons joked that he'd be abandoning 'Dry January' for the celebrations. "There's going to be a lot of people here who were at the forefront of pushing this through the Oireachtas, knocking on hundreds of doors. This is kind of like the icing on the cake."

Mr Lyons - one of the first openly gay members of Dáil Éireann - continued: "As soon as the referendum was passed, most of us politicians the next Monday were back to, 'What's the next thing we have to do?' So you don't get time to savour the moment.

"One of the great things about a day like today is that it brings back the special occasion.

"I just think it's very symbolic of what's happened - and I think there'll be a lot of us emotional."

Tánaiste Joan Burton and her husband, Pat Carroll, and Labour Senator Ivana Bacik were among the who's who of Irish politics in attendance.

Meanwhile, TV3 political editor Ursula Halligan - who came out ahead of the historic Marriage Referendum last year - added her congratulations: "It's a very happy day for everybody, for Ireland, for humanity."

Irish Independent

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