Republic of Ireland news

Knock Marriage Introductions closes after 50 years

The Catholic Church matchmaking service was responsible for almost 1,000 weddings over half a century

A CATHOLIC Church matchmaking service, that was responsible for almost 1,000 weddings over half a century, is to close.

Knock Marriage Introductions, based at the Marian Shrine in Co Mayo, cited a fall in demand in recent years.

Originally known as Knock Marriage Bureau, it was set up to bring couples together and is one of Ireland's longest-running matchmaking services.

It was founded by Fr Michael Keane, who became known as `Ireland's Cupid priest'.

Before his death in 2011, Fr Keane said it was a response to "much wringing of hands" about the low marriage rate in rural Ireland in the 1960s.

Between 1968 and 2019, the service was responsible for tens of thousands of introductions and 960 marriages.

The Church said it had become unviable, however, due to both a reduction in demand and the advance of newer technologies including online dating.

Annual subscriptions from clients who used the service have had to be supplemented in recent years by donations from dioceses around Ireland.

The Church said when Fr Keane had the vision to establish the agency in the 1960s, Ireland, the west in particular, was a very different place.

"Emigration was rife and most of the means of communication that today we take for granted were practically non-existent.

"The advent of the internet and online dating agencies, and apps have made it possible for people to meet a partner literally at the touch of a button. Many of the couples who met through Knock Marriage Introductions commented on the personal nature of the service and that they felt safe and secure being able to speak to someone in confidence at the end of a phone."

The Church added that demand had reduced to the point that was no longer viable. Supplementing it by donations, it said, was not sustainable long term.

"It is for these reasons that the board of directors of Knock Marriage Introductions have decided at a recent meeting to wind down the agency. We do so with heavy hearts, but happy in the knowledge that at least for 960 couples, it played a part in helping them to become husband and wife.

"We wish to express our gratitude to all who worked for the agency. We extend particular thanks to Fr Michael Keane who was the founder and first director and to Canon Joe Cooney who took over the mantle from him and was director until his retirement two years ago."

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