Gay couple celebrate to the sound of Abba


BARRY DIGNAM and Hugh Walsh celebrated their civil partnership at a registry office in Dublin yesterday.

The couple were not the first to do so as six such civil partnership have taken place since the beginning of the year. But they were the first to do so publicly.

As the couple were invited to kiss at the end of the ceremony, a familiar tune broke out. Laughter ensued as the penny dropped that it was in fact the orchestral version of Abba’s Dancing Queenfrom the film Muriel’s Wedding.

The song – a well-kept surprise “just to gay it up”, said Mr Dignam – will go down as the first that he and Mr Walsh heard as civil partners.

While nerves are generally part and parcel of anyone’s big day, the media attention surrounding yesterday’s ceremony made it even more nerve-racking for the pair.

They were the first to have entered a civil partnership after the three-month notice period, without receiving a court exemption as six other couples had done for various reasons.

Although they appeared the epitome of calm as they made their way to the Civil Registration Office on Lower Grand Canal Street, both men admitted to being “nervous on the inside”.

“The day started with a call from Ryan Tubridy,” Mr Walsh said, as what started as a media trickle turned into a throng outside the registry office.

The “elated” couple emerged to cheers and were presented their certificate by registrar Caroline Hamill, a piece of paper that Mr Dignam said would make a “huge practical difference”.

“Now if an accident happens and one of us has to go to hospital with the other, that other person’s views will be taken into account . . . We’re now each other’s next of kin,” Mr Walsh said.

“We’re basically just two faces – we are interchangeable with the thousands of gay couples who live in this country and who love each other and who are going to do this,” he added. He said full marriage was the next natural step.

The self-confessed foodies and their wedding party then walked to Olivier’s Restaurant at the Schoolhouse Hotel, where they celebrated with friends and family over a meal prepared by Breton chef Olivier Quenet.