Sunday 23 October 2016

Miriam the marrying type draws the line at blessings

Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30

LOVE: Miriam O’Callaghan oversaw the renewal of vows by Senator Katherine Zappone and Anne Louise Gilligan
LOVE: Miriam O’Callaghan oversaw the renewal of vows by Senator Katherine Zappone and Anne Louise Gilligan

Is there any end to her talents? When she's not presenting Prime Time, her weekend radio show, looking after eight children and doing charity work, Miriam O'Callaghan is now officiating at wedding ceremonies.

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When the news broke of Senator Katherine Zappone's and her long-term partner Anne Louise Gilligan's renewal of their vows last weekend, few realised that the RTE star had presided over the ceremony.

Miriam said: "The joke was that afterwards everyone was saying, 'Maybe you should go into the marriage business.' This could be a whole new career - as if I'm not busy enough.

"But no, I'm not going full-time into the wedding business. I might keep it in my back pocket. Never say never [to do it again]. It was a great honour and a wonderful day."

Speaking about the ceremony, which was attended by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, Miriam said: "There was one funny moment. When I received the programme, it included the part 'Miriam: a blessing'.

"So when I got to that, I said, 'Well, I'm so happy to be here today but even I wouldn't attempt to give a blessing.' So instead I read them Seamus Heaney's poem The Scaffolding, which is my favourite love poem.

"So everyone burst out laughing and started applauding, including The President. It was such a sweet moment."

Speaking about President Higgins, Miriam said: "He was really lovely. He said, 'I just wanted to say that was brilliantly done and it was a lovely service and Sabina said the same.'"

Before the ceremony, the Prime Time presenter had to get permission from RTE management.

"I had to fly everything past my boss because I am a current affairs anchor. I know it's a personal thing, but having said that, I was still cautious because we are coming up to an election.

"So the election obviously wasn't called but Katherine is standing, so I felt I should fly it up. I said, 'I know this is probably one of the most bizarre requests I'm ever going to fly to you but…'"

Katherine and Anne Louise have been together for the past 35 years and tied the knot in Vancouver in 2003. In 2004, they unsuccessfully sought recognition in the Irish High Court for their Canadian marriage.

The renewal of vows came about after Miriam gave the happy couple a nudge in the right direction last May.

In a live interview on the day of the marriage referendum, she asked Senator Zappone if she would have a ceremony to cement their legal marriage here in Ireland.

The Senator then popped the question to her partner live on air.

Meanwhile, Katherine Zappone has addressed rumours that she is considering running in the next presidential election and joked about the fact that there were three people at the one wedding who are all tipped to do the same.

She laughed: "All rubbing shoulders together and deeply respectful of one another."

Asked about the possibility of throwing her name in the hat, Katherine said: "I am focused right now on the upcoming election but I wouldn't rule it out."

Asked if she and Miriam had spoken to one another about running, Katherine said: "We have never spoken about it. But I really admire Miriam.

"She is a fantastically, robustly intelligent woman in the media and she does a fantastic job, so it would be sad to see her leave that position. But it's completely up to her."

She added that the President and his wife gave the couple a "beautiful piece of Galway Crystal".

Sunday Independent

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