A NORTH Clare parish priest is offering to conduct “downsized” weddings for couples who have been putting off taking the plunge because of the recession.

Lisdoonvarna priest, Father Conor Cunningham has offered to open up traditional Sunday mass for weddings and has also offered his services free of charge if couples decide to partake in a private church ceremony involving the bride, groom and their witnesses. The offer comes as marriage rates continue to drop in many parts of the country. According to Fr Cunningham, financial difficulties brought about by the recession should not prevent willing couples from getting married.

“I have noticed, and other priest friends of mine too, that some couples are putting off their sacramental marriage because they think a wedding day has to be an expensive occasion. It doesn’t have to be,” he said.

“If any couple in our parish wants to get married in Christ, money and the economic climate definitely should not be factors in their decision. Why not get married at any of our regular parish Sunday masses with your friends, family and neighbours around you and supporting you in prayer?

“Parishioners would be thrilled and privileged to be present. Or even in a quiet liturgy with Jesus, the priest and your two witnesses on any day that suits? I would be privileged to facilitate such weddings anytime, and it would be totally free of cost and pressure.”

Sunday marriages are prohibited in many diocese as the church authorities feel that priests, who could say mass five or six times on a given Sunday, should not be put under pressure to conduct weddings as well.

Fr Cunningham’s idea to combine traditional Sunday mass with weddings ceremonies has been well received in North Clare. While no Sunday marriages have yet been scheduled, a number of couples have recently renewed their vows on a Sunday, as part of the regular mass schedule.

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Andrew has been working in the media in the West of Ireland for more than a decade. During that time he has been shortlisted for many national journalism awards, served as a judge for the Choice Music Prize in 2008 and was part of the nominating panel for the Meteor Ireland Music Awards from 2008 to 2011. He holds an MA in Journalism and Public Relation and a BA in English, Sociology and Politics. He is currently working on his debut novel. A selection of his writings, including a number of new short stories can be viewed on Fighting Talk - http://fightingtalknow.blogspot.ie/ Follow Andrew on twitter: @Andrew_CPeople Contact Andrew on [email protected]

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