This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 8 °C Monday 9 December, 2019
Advertisement

The story of us: "I have never felt luckier or like I was on a bigger adventure"

Long-term couples talk about their lives together – and their hopes for the future – ahead of Friday’s vote on same-sex marriage.

Caitriona O'Neill and William Gallagher

THIS WEEK, VOTERS will decide whether they want to introduce same-sex marriage in Ireland.

As the debate rages from all sides, some everyday, long-term Irish couples share their stories – and talk about life, love, and their hopes for the future.

Simon and TJ

Tj and Simon's wedding. 11th August 2012 169 Source: Picasa

“Who knows what the future holds? I hope we get the opportunity to grow into two contented, slightly worn and comfortable old men.”

“We first met 21 years ago in The George pub. We were, and still are, shy individuals. Despite this we got chatting but it was late in the evening and I had to (genuinely) catch the last Dart home – T.J. didn’t believe this lame shift exit and with this ‘rebuff’, our first encounter ended.

However, I distinctly recall this night as I had only on the scene a short time and it was the first evening that I had been coaxed by new friend to stop hiding, face to the floor and look around. I did, and through the smoky crowds I spotted T.J. For me, there was an instant attraction and recognition of a like-soul.

Roll on 12 months, during which two shy men never mustered the courage to talk to each other again, and you get to the night we finally spoke for a second time in The George; 20 years later we are still talking, laughing, sharing, crying and loving each other’s company. Once we reconnected that night our relationship blossomed very quickly, it just felt so natural and comfortable.

After a brief stint of staying over, we moved in together only to decide soon after, perhaps rather naively, to buy a house together. Admittedly, this was strongly encouraged by Simon’s mother and, in 1996, she actually found the house that was to become our home in the classifieds ads of the Evening Herald in the rural community of Kiltegan, CoWicklow. Like most couples of the time we scrimped and saved every penny we had to feather our nest, realise our plans, dreams, and create our sanctuary. We have been blessed ever since to have the comfort of what we have always called our family home.

Our day to day lives are not particularly exciting and no doubt are not very different than most others, consumed with work, domestic chores, the trials and tribulations of life’s journey but also with joy, laughter, happiness and a deep love and respect for each other. On the journey that we have shared and with the support of one another we have traversed most of the obstacles in life so far with the ability to learn and grow together.  As such, we are both happier now than when we met first, richer for the shared experiences and grateful for the love that we have for each other which with each year grows, strengthens and deepens.

Who knows what the future holds but I only hope that it will yield many more years together and afford us the opportunity to grow into two contented, slightly worn and comfortable old men.”

Conor and Dave

C+D

“Growing old together looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

“This is the story of us – Conor and Dave. We met 15 years ago online in a now long-gone Yahoo Group, which we can’t even remember the name of. I was 20 and Dave was 24. It took us six months of chatting online to actually meet for a pint which was a bit of a disastrous first date. We wouldn’t call it love at first sight at all, but love grew very quickly.

I was a student and Dave was very new to working in Dublin; he supported me during my long, penniless years of study because that’s what partners do. Dave and I are complete opposites in virtually everything but it works. I am a scientist and he is a technician so arguing over everything is part of every day. But that’s how we thrive.

On Dave’s 30th birthday I proposed in front of all of our friends and we said that as soon as any government gave us an opportunity to be bound legally we’d take it. We wanted our union protected and recognised in any way possible. So at the very end of 2011 we were civilly partnered in front of our friends and family. It was the happiest day of our lives so far and our family and friends vowed with us on that day to support us through our lives. Soon thereafter we adopted a rescue cat called Sky that was found near where we had our wedding. So now we are a family of three, or two and a big ball of crazy fluff if you prefer. Growing old together looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.

We know that civil partnership isn’t on a par with civil marriage but we didn’t want to wait. Our parents do not deserve to be told that under our constitution their sons are not worthy of the institute of marriage. It really hurts. We are sons, brothers, nephews and uncles and that will never change but if the referendum fails, we’ll somehow be lesser citizens and not good enough for our country. Separate but equal apparently – sounds much like segregation to us. This tells us that our union doesn’t matter to society, that society thinks we do not matter and we are just not good enough.

Why would anyone want to say in a country as a second class citizen? Does anyone dream of being second class? It would be heart breaking to leave yet more hurtful to stay. We want to grow old together and contribute to Ireland as equal citizens to make it better, make us the best country, it’s a simple dream that we hope will be a reality very soon.”

Cathy and Eleanor

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 16.43.38

I have never felt luckier or like I was on a bigger adventure”

“Cathy and I met at the Pink Hockey hockey tournament in June 2012. Cathy was playing for the London Royals, and I was playing for the Pink Ladies, a Dublin based lesbian hockey team.

We knew straight away that this was special and what followed was the most wonderful adventure. We shouted for Katie Taylor in her Olympic final and followed the Irish Rugby team on their six nations victories. Basically we crossed the Irish sea at every opportunity possible to see each other.

Cathy is a lecturer in accessibility engineering in UCL London, I am an Irish and Geography secondary school teacher here. We are very lucky that we can afford to see each other every week and know that many couples are separated for far longer because of financial pressures.

On 31st Dec 2014 we got civil partnered in a beautiful ceremony in the Hampton Hotel, Donnybrook. All of our closest friends and family were there. Our wonderful day was created by our amazingly talented friends and we never felt more lucky. Our photographer, Debbie Hickey, shared some of our photos with the Yes Equality campaign, on our request, because we really wanted to add positive and real images of SSM to the online conversation.

But what we really wanted was to get married on New Year’s Eve. We have three brothers each and they all see our relationship as being as important as their own. We want all of Ireland to see our partnership as being equal and recognise us equally with how every heterosexual married couple are recognised.

I have never felt luckier, or like I was on a bigger adventure, than since I met Cathy and I can’t wait until I can marry her.”

Shane and Robert

image

“We both have fantastic parents, and we aspire to have the lives like theirs – happy, healthy, and full of love.”

“I met Rob through our mutual friend, Barry. A group of us would head out for drinks and nights out and, after about five months of doing these nights out, Rob and I still hadn’t really talked, so I thought he was just stuck up!

One evening I wanted to head to a movie but no one was around or free, but Barry said Rob was. It was a classic set up but I had no idea. We went to a movie, and then after went to a pub called the Dragon, where we chatted for four hours. I drove him home, where we chatted for another two hours, sitting in the car at the top of his driveway. Before leaving he asked me out. I just felt right. That was eight and a half years ago!

I used to work seven days a week in two jobs in two different counties, but we battled through that. We used to joke that it was like a long distance relationship, but it made us good with planning and time keeping, and really making the time we had together count. Last year I got my weekends back, so we are making up for the weekends missed. We love to go for walks down Dun Laoghaire pier and a cheeky drink in The Forty Foot, head into Dublin city for a gander around the shops, make trips to the movie or take random day trips. We rarely stay in lazing about. Life is too short.

What does our future hold? Well, we do not currently live together. We have talked about it, and perhaps next year. We decided to try save some money with the hope of buying in the next few years. We also want to travel a bit. Rob loves seeing the world, and I haven’t been to many places, so hopefully a few excellent adventures will be had (although he fears if I visit Disneyworld I might buy the entire gift shop!).

We both have fantastic sets of parents, and we aspire to have the lives that they have – happy, healthy, and full of love.

We want to get married, that’s something we know. We want to get married in Ireland with all our family and friends around us. That would be amazing. I guess a lot depends on what happens on 22 May. If the civil marriage referendum does not pass it won’t change us – we will still be together, in our loving relationship, living our lives, enjoying each other’s personalities – but it would be nice. It would be definitely part of the dream.”

Bishop: ‘I would hate if people voted No for bigoted, nasty, bullying reasons’

Mothers and Fathers Matter: The claim we’re using ‘dirty tactics’ is ‘outrageous’

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Caitriona O'Neill and William Gallagher

Read next:

COMMENTS (135)