Catherine looks back on 50 years of marriage…
We were married at 11 o’clock on the 29th of June, 1968. Because we were from different traditions and neither of us wanted to convert, we had some complications, but we overcame it all, and to this day have never had an argument over religion.
After the ceremony we went to my husband’s parents’ house for lunch along with family and friends.
My wedding dress was simple, long and white. The material, lace and thread, cost five pounds and ten shillings in ‘old money’, and – with the loan of a sewing machine – I made it myself! I also made my bridesmaid’s dress and two dresses for flower girls, for another five pounds.
In the January before the wedding my husband went to Burton’s and was measured for a beautiful mohair suit. We paid instalments every week until the sum of £55 was paid.
I made my three-tier wedding cake – cake boards and all the ingredients cost about four pounds. My father-in-law worked in the Shelbourne Hotel from where he borrowed the pillars and a decoration for the top of the cake.
At 4 o’clock, in a borrowed car, we drove to my grandmother’s house so she could see me in my wedding dress. Then we drove back to our flat in Dublin and the next day my brother-in-law drove us to Courtown Harbour for our honeymoon.
After a week’s honeymoon we both went back to work. My husband’s job took him to different parts of the country for weeks on end but once a month his boss paid for his train fare to come home.
I started to feel unwell about six weeks after we were married and my sister-in-law suggested I should go to the doctor as she thought I might be pregnant. I didn’t believe her and waited another few weeks. She got her way – and the doctor confirmed I was pregnant. I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home to tell him; we were so delighted and began to make great plans. Sadly, on the 8th of December, our first child, a daughter, was born dead. I had two miscarriages after that, but in June 1970 our first son was born healthy.
In January 1972 we moved to Wexford to a ‘tied cottage’, which meant I worked in lieu of paying rent.
Our second son was born in late December 1972, and on Easter Sunday 1977, after praying that we would have a little girl, our daughter was born.
In 1980, after having gone through a total of seven miscarriages, we were blessed with another girl.
Life was not always a bed of roses. Over the years my husband had problems with alcohol, and so money was always tight. But I always made sure my children were safe and cared for. I won’t say it was easy and there were many times I hardly knew which way to turn, but I truly loved my husband and had been brought up believing that, good or bad, marriage was for life, so I was prepared to put up with his problem and think of all the really good times we had together.
I was a strict parent – but when work was finished we spent our time swimming and playing on the beach most days.
In 1987, I was diagnosed with leukaemia. My greatest fear was that my children would grow up without a mother, as I had. Happily, with treatment, time and the support of great friends, I recovered well.
All of our children went on to third-level education and have been successful in their fields. They have chosen wonderful partners for themselves and now we have seven adorable grandchildren who bring us so much joy.
In October 2007 our children bought us a beautiful old cottage to retire in. In December 2014 my husband suffered a small stroke, but he recovered well. In 2016, following a check-up, his GP referred him to a specialist and he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. We were told that there was no real cure but that he would receive treatment. I was terrified, but I am coping and he has continued to respond well to treatment.
Looking back over 50 years of marriage, I know that I would do it all again in a heartbeat. We look forward to having our extended family join us for a celebration of our 50 years this summer and we hope for nothing more now than good health.