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Why it's never too late to say 'I do'

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Mary and Paul Flannagan fro Bondings. Photo: Tony Gavin

Mary and Paul Flannagan fro Bondings. Photo: Tony Gavin

Stylist Cathy Oconnor and Wmmy award winning writer Marc Flanagan. Picture By David Conachy.

Stylist Cathy Oconnor and Wmmy award winning writer Marc Flanagan. Picture By David Conachy.

Marian Finucane with her husband John Clarke after they were married at the Civil Marriages Registry Office on Dublin’s Grand Canal Street. Picture: Frank McGrath

Marian Finucane with her husband John Clarke after they were married at the Civil Marriages Registry Office on Dublin’s Grand Canal Street. Picture: Frank McGrath

Marian Finucane pictured with her husband John Clarke  after they were married  at the Civil Marriages Registry office on Dublin's Grand Canal street.

Marian Finucane pictured with her husband John Clarke after they were married at the Civil Marriages Registry office on Dublin's Grand Canal street.

Author Sheila O'Flanagan and new husband Colm McCashin

Author Sheila O'Flanagan and new husband Colm McCashin

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Mary and Paul Flannagan fro Bondings. Photo: Tony Gavin

If they're honest, the news that Marian Finucane married her partner John Clarke on Tuesday afternoon came as a bit of a surprise to most people.

Some presumed they were already married, given that they have been with one another for 30 years and had two children together.

Others were confused because the media almost always referred to John as Marian's husband in reports, presuming they had tied the knot years ago.

But, in truth, as we gazed on her natty fedora and elegant, charcoal grey suit, most of us wondered why the 64-year-old RTE broadcaster had finally decided to seal the deal?

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Author Sheila O'Flanagan and new husband Colm McCashin

Author Sheila O'Flanagan and new husband Colm McCashin

Author Sheila O'Flanagan and new husband Colm McCashin

Maybe it was for pragmatic reasons, aimed at making everything legally tight in the event of anything happening to either of them?

Maybe it was just a case of timing, because they wouldn't have been able to marry when they met initially, as Marian's previous five-year marriage ended before divorce was legalised in 1997? Having lived together for so long and having had children, they possibly didn't feel any urgency to skip down the aisle when the law finally changed.

And maybe they just wanted to stand up in front of a registrar and witnesses, and declare that they were still in love after all of those years together? It's a lovely, romantic thought, that two people in the autumn of their lives would be willing to essentially say, "I do, and I have always done."

It was great to see that Marian and John had remained a tight unit, standing strong through the highs and lows, ups and downs and trials of life. In their case, this includes the tragedy of their daughter Sinead passing away aged eight in 1990 from leukaemia, and their son Jack, now 27, being viciously attacked when burglars raided their Kildare home in 2007.

While Marian and John are slightly unusual, they are not on their own, as according to the Central Statistics Office, 159 of the 20,680 brides who pledged their troth in 2013 were over 60, while 367 grooms were men over 60.

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Marian Finucane pictured with her husband John Clarke  after they were married  at the Civil Marriages Registry office on Dublin's Grand Canal street.

Marian Finucane pictured with her husband John Clarke after they were married at the Civil Marriages Registry office on Dublin's Grand Canal street.

Marian Finucane pictured with her husband John Clarke after they were married at the Civil Marriages Registry office on Dublin's Grand Canal street.

Best-selling author Sheila O'Flanagan's circumstances were similar to Marian's, as she was with her husband, Colm McCashin, for 34 years before they got married in March 2014. Hilariously, her mum Patty said that she'd be glad to see her settled, when she broke the news to her that a date had been set.

Sheila and Colm were unable to get wed initially as Colm was married before, and although they were very comfortable with just being together, they thought they had better get around to making the relationship official.

"We had a date set two days later and were married three months later," she says, adding that she isn't the slightest bit romantic.

"Maybe I was thinking that we should do it before my face falls completely."

Sheila (56) wore a purple lace dress by Louise Kennedy and bright purple shoes to the registry office on Lower Grand Canal Street, and she and Colm exchanged their vows in front of 13 family members.

They celebrated with dinner in The Library (appropriately) at the Dylan Hotel afterwards, followed by a two-day honeymoon in Cork. Then they threw a party for friends a month later at the Harbourmaster restaurant at the IFSC - a nod to their banking roots.

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Stylist Cathy Oconnor and Wmmy award winning writer Marc Flanagan. Picture By David Conachy.

Stylist Cathy Oconnor and Wmmy award winning writer Marc Flanagan. Picture By David Conachy.

Stylist Cathy Oconnor and Wmmy award winning writer Marc Flanagan. Picture By David Conachy.

While the author of If You Were Me says that being married hasn't made the slightest difference to their relationship, she finds it funny when people refer to Colm as her husband. Just like Marian, they were calling him that anyway.

Sometimes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, and that may not happen until late in life. Mary Flanagan from Clontarf met her husband Paul in 2006, when she was 45.

Mary is the Irish representative for Kreativ Dental in Budapest, and when Paul spotted her talking about the extensive cosmetic dentistry she had undergone there in a newspaper article, he got in touch as he also wanted to have work done there. He came back from Hungary with a huge smile on his face, and not just because of his fabulous new gnashers. He and Mary had fallen in love and they were married in December 2011 at Tankardstown House. He fell for her because she was intelligent and beautiful, he says.

When they met, Paul was separated, with three grown-up children, Ross, Marc, and Emma, who were their bridesmaid and groomsmen at the wedding.

Mary had long-term relationships prior to meeting Paul, but was single when they met.

Like Sheila's mum, Paul's mother Bridie was delighted to see him so happy with the lovely Mary. She said, "Of course she will," to the amusement of guests when the registrar asked whether Mary would take Paul to be her husband. Since then, they have had a lot to contend with, as Mary's mum died on Mother's Day 2012 and her younger brother Shay had a fatal heart attack that December, aged 45.

It was hard, but she says that Paul is very kind and easy to talk to, and it is lovely to have someone there to support her and help her to get through it. They are very happy, and thrilled to have found one another, she says.

For some people, marriage is just not something that interests them. When the Duke of Westminster asked Coco Chanel to marry him, she turned him down and later commented, "I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird." She never got married to anyone.

Stylist Cathy O'Connor, 54, agrees with the notion that everyone presumes women always want to get married, but says she was always very happy being on her own, and thought she wasn't "the marrying kind".

So you can imagine her surprise when she found herself engaged to with thrice-married US father-of-two, Marc Flanagan (63), who is a double Emmy award-winning writer. They met in 2009 when he was asked to introduce a film at the Odessa Club in Dublin, and he thought Cathy had "the face that launched a thousand ships and was so striking and beautiful".

There was a slight problem in that Cathy was in a relationship, but that ended some months later, and she and Marc became close a while after that. Last year, in the middle of a heated argument, Marc popped the question to a stunned Cathy.

"It was a huge step and a seismic leap for me," she admits, adding that she asked Marc for time to consider it.

A few months later, Cathy was delighted to accept Marc's proposal in the very romantic setting of Buda Castle in Budapest and they are hoping to marry this year or next.

When Marc asked Cathy's mum for her permission, she said, 'Marc, you've always had my permission.'

All of which goes to prove two things. Firstly, it's is never too late to find love or make that solemn commitment to your partner. And secondly, no matter what age you are, Irish mammies will always be thrilled when their son or daughter finally says yes to "the one".

Irish Independent