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Keighley Kierans (31) from Drogheda, Co Louth, married her partner Jamie Baker (41) from London in a humanist ceremony yesterday in a hotel in Co Meath.

“For me, it would feel quite hypocritical to go for a big church wedding when I wouldn’t step foot in the church from one end of the year to the next,” she said.

Kierans was raised as a Catholic but is now an atheist, and Baker was raised in the Church of England, so a traditional Catholic wedding was “never really an option” for the couple.

“I think that obviously comes into play a lot more where you have inter-racial or interfaith couples, that it’s just not a possibility for them,” Kierans said before the service in Clonabreany House, near Kells.

The abandonment of old traditions by Keighley is nothing new, since the Irish wedding is in a state of flux, as shown by statistics this week, including the religious nature of ceremonies.

Last year, 47.6 per cent of all weddings were Catholic affairs – a significant change from 18 years ago when more than 75 per cent of all weddings took place in a Catholic church.

People are older too when they wed. In 2018, the average age of a bride in an opposite-sex relationship was 34.4, while grooms came in at 36.4. Meanwhile, the average age of male same-sex couples getting married was 40.1. For women in same-sex relationships that figure stands at 38.7.

International trends

Sociologist Carmel Hannan, who is a lecturer at the University of Limerick but is currently on a sabbatical working with the Economic and Social Research Institute, said many of the changes mirrored international trends.

“It’s part of a move away from religion that we see elsewhere,” Hannan said.

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