I was very privileged and happy to travel to my birth place, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, on Friday to be the celebrant of my cousin Anne’s wedding to her new wife Ruth.

Here they are pictured being led by a piper down the impressive stair case of the Bridge House Hotel in Tullamore.

I have celebrated many weddings over the years in the Bridge House but this one was special. It was a family wedding.

I have celebrated hundreds and hundreds of Gay Blessings in the past 33 years.

This was my first formal Same Sex Marriage in the Republic since the law was changed by referendum.

The marriage licence (MRF) is exactly the same and for hetero weddings. A great sign of equality.

There were 150 guests present of every age and to a man and woman they were ecstatically happy for the two ladies.

The bride’s father, a devout Catholic and GAA member from Rural Ireland spoke wonderfully in support of his daughter and was proud of her as a daughter, athlete, and a professional person.

It was a most happy day.

But even on happy days sad memories drift over our minds and hearts.

Anne’s mother Phylis, pictured below, was a sister of my mother Jo.


My mother Jo

The third sister who was part of the trio of very close sisters was my aunt Joan


The three sisters were as close as close could be over the years.

My Mum lived with me and the two sisters would come from Tullamore to Larne several times a year.

Joan was the most lively one and had a great sense of humour. She was easy to get started and I was an expert at winding her up and the result was often explodingly funny.

One time the three sisters were sitting in front of the house on a wooden bench in the sun. I got a squeezy bottle of white household cleaner and squeezed a little bit onto Joan’s hair. She presumed the seagulls had shit in her head and went into a tizzy as we all fell about laughing.

We had a table at the ceremony with pictures of Phylis, Jo and Joan on it and we lit candles in their honour.

I found that part of the day very sad.