120 years ago, my Great Grandparents Patrick Hoare and Mary Walsh were married.
February a popular month for weddings
Patrick and Mary are among a number of Irish Catholic couples in my tree who married at St James’s parish church, Killorglin, Co Kerry, Ireland in February over the years. Ten years earlier, Patricks older brother Michael married Johanna Corkerry on the 5th of the month, Mary’s younger brother Edward married Deborah Riordan on 6th Feb 1912 and going further back to 1872 my Great Great Grandparents Patrick Walsh and Julia Cahillane were married on the 13th Feb.
An Irish Catholic Tradition
It wasn’t just my family who favoured February weddings, as the graph below shows it was the most popular month to marry in 1901 with 107 noted in the Killarney registration district and the same patterns can be seen in the registers for other years across Ireland.
So why would so many want to marry in one of the coldest months of the year? I thought it maybe had something to do with Valentines day but further research has shown that it was more likely due to couples wanting to marry before the start of Lent when traditionally the Catholic church decreed weddings should not take place. A closer look at the dates in the civil registers seems to confirm this theory as only two marriages in 1901 and three in 1912 occurred between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
You maybe wondering why they didn’t wait until after Easter when the weather would have hopefully been warmer but that probably was not an option for my ancestors and many others who lived in small rural townlands and relied on working the land for a living. They would probably have had more time in the Winter to plan a February wedding but from Spring through to Autumn it would have been long days in the fields tending to their crops and livestock with little time for anything else.