“Marry me, Francie!”
Cllr Suzanne Doyle’s proposal to colleague Francis Browne drew a couple of giggles at last Wednesday’s Kildare Area Committee meeting.
But Cllr Doyle hadn’t been struck by a sudden case of white frock fever. Her overture was part of a campaign to get the recently shut Kildare Courthouse recognised as a venue for civil weddings.
Cllr Doyle recently asked Kildare County Council officials to investigate how they could get the old building on the town’s Main Street, which ceased life as a courthouse venue last year, approved as a site for non-church marriages.
Cllr Doyle believes that it could attract weddings business to the town, which would benefit local hotels, florists and other nuptials-related services.
However, council officials reported back last week that the Registrar of Marriages won’t investigate the suitability of a building as a choice for a civil ceremony unless an engaged couple has nominated it as their choice of a place to marry.
“It is not possible to put the building [Kildare Courthouse] forward for consideration without an application from a couple for the venue,” officials reported to the meeting.
And given the fact that the courthouse, built in the 19th century, was shut due to its state of disrepair, it is unlikely that any bride planning her big day would take a punt on it for taking her vows.
Cllr Doyle said she was bemused at the rule. “It seems incredibly bureaucratic,” she said. “Does anyone know a couple?”
However, the resourceful Cllr Doyle isn’t one to be beaten by officialdom. “I may get engaged to Francie here and we’ll put ourselves forward!” she said.
Wedding venues for civil ceremonies, if a couple wants to get married outside a registry office, must fit strict criteria, including being accessible to all.
KCC officials said they wouldn’t be in favour of turning the courthouse into a venue for civil ceremonies, because they said there would be no guarantee they would see a return on the considerable investment needed to spruce it up. But Cllr Doyle asked them to go back to the Register of Marriages and ask them again to hypothetically investigate the proposal, which, she indicated, could bring great business to the town.
Cllr Browne later said he may get down to the pawn shop to check out a few engagement rings.