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Divorce may be new here, but it's already too deeply rooted in the Irish mindset

Instead of a red carpet parade of famous couples holding hands and looking lovingly into each other's eyes, this year brings a blue-carpet parade of the famous, on their own, split from their spouses.

The famous have always divorced earlier and more often than most people. Before divorce came to Ireland, we watched the marital breakups of film stars like Elizabeth Taylor. In Ireland, we marked that kind of behaviour down as shallow. It would never come to this country.


When the divorce law passed, it was less used in the early years than had been expected. See, said the promoters of the stable, life-long marriage, we're never going to change. Sure, half the numbers are made up of people who separated ten or twenty years earlier and are just putting legal finality to their breakup.

This summer writes 'The End' on that view of marriage. Almost every week, we've learned of the ending of a celeb marriage: Mark and Vivienne Dunne, Andrea Roche and PJ Mansfield, Ronan and Yvonne Keating. Some with children, some without children.

Behind those famous front-runners marches a small army of couples who are not famous at all, but who have decided, in common with the celebs, to call it a day, often after ten years or less. It may not be the seven-year itch, but it's close.

The pattern is established. Couples may promise to stay together 'all the years of our lives', but we're moving closer to Divorce, European-style, where marriages end (for the most part) in a whimper, rather than a bang, and the two people involved move on to other relationships, other weddings.


Ruth Griffin and Alan Quinlan are just the latest. More may hit the headlines before the summer is out, not least because the prospect of heading off for an overseas holiday with the kids and a lot of emotional freight can be the trigger for calling it a day.

It's a generational thing. Role models matter. If you come from a fractured family, you have been trained, growing up, in how to fracture. It's as simple and tragic as that. Peaches Geldof may not know all of the studies, but she knows her onions: if your parents divorced, your chances of going down the same route will increase.

Another factor is longevity. When, a hundred years ago, a couple standing at the altar rail promised to stay together "till death do us part," they knew that the chances of either of them reaching 70 were small.

Now, the chances are that each will live longer. A lot longer. In which context, when trouble starts early, the people involved may figure it's better to cut their losses while they're still young and have other chances.


In one sense, this is a tragedy. It's a tragedy because a man and a woman who thought they adored each other find out that they don't. Children suffer, (when children are involved) no matter how civilised the parting. Society suffers, because stable marriages hold a society together.

Divorce hasn't been around that long in Ireland, but it feels like it's been around forever. Today's newlyweds have the same hopes and dreams as did their parents.

They're just less likely to stick it out when those hopes and dreams wither.