Love in a time of Covid: John and Mary marry over 40 years after first meeting

Newly-weds shrug off Covid-19 restrictions, but John quips: ‘It’s a pity we all can’t go for a drink’


Love will conquer all. Even Covid-19 and the Level 5 lockdown restrictions could not stop one Offaly couple from getting married more than 40 years after they first met.

Farmer John Bermingham (86), from the village of Rhode, and his long-time love Mary Long (83), exchanged vows in the civil marriage registration room in Tullamore health centre on Friday afternoon.

It is the second time for both to tie the knot, and asked why they decided to get married at this stage of their lives, Mary, whose first marriage was annulled, laughed and replied: “We want to be buried together.”

The marriage was witnessed by Mr Bermingham’s daughter, Carolyn and her husband John Fitzgerald, who travelled from their home in Holycross, Co Tipperary for the ceremony.

The only other people to attend the intimate wedding were Carolyn and John’s twin daughters, Robbyn and Alison.

John Bermingham grew up in Terenure, Dublin and his father Jack, an Offaly native, was capped for Ireland in the 1921 Five Nations championship.

The groom later moved to Ballybryan, Rhode and became well known locally as an expert horseman.

Mary, originally from Turner’s Cross, Cork, was a Dublin-based beauty consultant and keen swimmer in her younger days.

Carolyn Bermingham said it had been the pair’s wish for a long time to get married, but they had difficulty with the paperwork, especially in relation to recognition in this State of her father’s American divorce.

“They’re old and I knew they wanted to do this,” she said. “Nowadays everything is online and on the internet and they just couldn’t manage it. They were overwhelmed by the whole bureaucracy of it and they found it very impersonal.”

She was very grateful for the help of the HSE staff dealing with marriage registrations in Tullamore.

Despite the Covid-19 restrictions, the ceremony went well. For their part, the newly married couple shrugged off the Covid-19 restrictions, but John did quip afterwards: “It’s a pity we all can’t go for a drink.”