Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage – or so the old song used to say. Not any more, it seems. Figures released by the Central Statistics Office show that there were 19,855 marriages registered in 2011 – according to figures which were issued yesterday, the lowest number in 13 years. At the other end of the scale there was also a significant downturn in divorce.
It is possible that the economic factors have played a part in the decline of marriage and divorce, as both are expensive processes.
Another factor may be the age at which couples are saying 'I do' – 34.6 years for men and 32.5 for women. However, a change in lifestyle over the last two decades means that many couples are already cohabiting and may already have children before they decide to walk down the aisle together.
But it is also interesting to note that while there has been a major decline in general religious observance, 60pc of couples still opt for a traditional Catholic Church wedding when they tie the knot.
The current state of Irish marriage did not, however, impress David Quinn, a director of the Catholic think-tank The Iona Institute and a columnist with the Irish Independent, who called for a national debate on the sharp decline in marriage and the fact that a third of the nation's children are now born outside the institution.
"Irish people need to abandon the idea that the institution of marriage in this country is in good health, it isn't," he declared.