In a word ... matrimony

 

“I’ve no wish to hurry you, luv. But have you seen the time? It’s quarter to 10 and we’re supposed to be there. At 9 . . .” I always liked those early Gilbert O’Sullivan songs. Nothing Rhymed and Alone Again (Naturally) have to be pop classics. The line above comes from the jaunty Matrimony; such an old-fashioned word.

In St Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry last month the funeral of Bishop Edward Daly was delayed so a young couple could get married. His remains were moved to a side chapel to allow the wedding of Gareth McIvor and Christina Doherty take place.

I should have left then like everyone else but beset by curiosity I hung back. The wails of a child drew my attention to two well-dressed young men and a boy at the back. One of the men was holding a roaring child in his arms. I asked him if he knew who was getting married and fell out of my standing when he said “. . . I am!”

I had just met Gareth McIvor. “We booked it two years ago,” he said, indicating why the marriage was going ahead that day. He introduced his best man, Ian Dunn. “No ‘e’, I’m from the Waterside,” said Ian, confirming his Protestant credentials. Mixed marriage then.

Gareth held his protesting son Shay (2) in his arms. There was also his other son Caoimhín (11), waiting for his mother Christina, and sisters Shona (13) and Clodagh (4). “Well . . ,” I thought to myself, “ . . . well, well, well.”

Bride Christina was an acceptable 15 minutes late. She was escorted up the aisle by children Shona and Caomhín, who gave her away to their father at the altar. Bless my soul, but it was charming.

Officiating priest Fr Patrick Lagan welcomed everyone, including members of other churches present, while Shay refused to leave his father’s arms throughout the ceremony. Even as he said “I do” to his new wife.

It was hard not to believe that no one would have approved more of such lack of convention as the compassionate ecumenist lying in his coffin nearby. Or that no one would have laughed more at the realisation that his own funeral was late because of such a happy event.

Matrimony originated in Middle English, from Old French matremoine, and Latin matrimonium:- from mater, meaning mother, and -onium, meaning a condition.

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