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Irish couple in their 80s finally say 'I do' 40 years after meeting

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image captionJohn Bermingham and Mary Long first met in a County Wicklow hotel in 1976

An Irish couple in their 80s have tied the knot more than 40 years after they first met.

John Bermingham, 86, and Mary Long, 83, got married in the civil marriage registration room in Tullamore Health Centre, County Offaly, on Friday.

The "young-at-heart" couple had planned on making it official a long time ago, but life got in the way.

And they weren't going to let the coronavirus pandemic delay it any further.

Mr Bermingham's daughter Carolyn told BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme that getting married "means an awful lot to them".

"While they are a lot of fun and they are great craic, as you'd say, they do have old-fashioned values and they did just want to be a married couple," she said.

The couple first met in 1976 in a hotel but it would be another few years before the pair would meet again.

At that point, Mary was "off men" but she eventually agreed to meet John for a coffee one evening. There was one rule though - there would be "no hanky panky", she told Irish broadcaster RTÉ.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

'Up to all sorts'

"They don't have an old person's attitude to the world at all, and they share that," said Carolyn.

"If they had more health on their side they'd be up to all sorts of no good! They're great fun."

But the couple "had a lot of issues along the way", which led to them delaying their nuptials, Carolyn explained.

"The fact that there wasn't any divorce in Ireland until 1996 and, when there was, there were problems with my dad's foreign divorce - and Mary had to get a church and state annulment," she said.

"When eventually those problems were over, they were getting old and struggling with the internet and having to do things online and they're not able for that.

"I know they're very old and, as they say themselves, they were afraid that one of them would pass away before they got a chance to do it and so I decided to take the matter in hand and try to help them and sort them out."

'It means an awful lot'

Carolyn organised the wedding and travelled from County Tipperary with her family to watch the loved-up duo finally say "I do".

Due to coronavirus restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, wedding numbers were limited.

But family and friends are planning to celebrate together when they can.

"As Mary always says, they wanted to be buried together as a couple, not that there was ever going to be an issue with that, but because they think in a more old-fashioned way, it makes things a bit more signed and sealed for them."

Related Topics

  • Weddings
  • Republic of Ireland

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