Ball­room of ro­mance for 50 years and more

For the eight cou­ples in a new doc­u­men­tary a shared in­ter­est is the key to long-last­ing re­la­tion­ships and a healthy life, writes Mar­garet Jen­nings

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Ageing With Attitude - Golden: Our 50 Years of Mar­riage, RTÉ One, Mon­day, Novem­ber 6, 9.35pm

HAV­ING a sense of hu­mour, a shared passion and an abil­ity to con­tinue to live in the present mo­ment could well be the se­cret to a long and happy re­la­tion­ship. They were some of the stand­out qual­i­ties that Ir­ish cou­ples, who have been mar­ried for at least five decades, ex­hibit in a new one-hour RTÉ 1 doc­u­men­tary on Mon­day night, called Golden: Our 50 Years of Mar­riage.

“All of them are re­ally liv­ing in the now; this is about their love and re­la­tion­ship now,” says doc­u­men­tary pro­ducer Sally Ro­den.

“Ob­vi­ously, they all have their shared his­tory be­hind them, but we were left with the im­pres­sion that this was fed with an on­go­ing passion that they shared, some­thing else.

“Ev­ery­body’s story is com­pletely dif­fer­ent but the com­mon­al­ity is that all of them have some kind of shared passion — ei­ther worked to­gether or shared in­ter­ests and it re­ally seemed to be a bit of a key. It was re­ally life-af­firm­ing to see how much the cou­ples were still in­vested in life,” she says.

Dublin­ers Paddy and Joan Darcy for in­stance, who are mar­ried 55 years dance at least three times a week. “Most cou­ples met when they went danc­ing back then, but Paddy was al­ways shy and he felt that if he took up danc­ing it would help him over­come the shy­ness, says Ro­den.

“Joan did it as a kind of act of love for him; she wanted to help him pull it out of him­self. That was back when they were in their 40s. It co­in­cided with is­sues with arthri­tis which she got quite young, but she pushed her­self.”

Al­though the doc­u­men­tary mak­ers do touch on the cou­ple’s sto­ries of how they got mar­ried and back his­tory, there was so much go­ing on in their cur­rent lives that they could fo­cus on, says Ro­den.

Another strik­ing as­pect was that their ex­pec­ta­tions were so dif­fer­ent to what peo­ple mar­ry­ing now are — so much lower.

“I don’t mean of their re­la­tion­ships, but not hav­ing as much pres­sure to have so much stuff. They felt that it was part of the jour­ney to grow to­gether and get things to­gether. There wasn’t an ex­pec­ta­tion that you have to start with it all, that an aw­ful lot of cou­ples now have. And all of them said that was a key part in their early re­la­tion­ships be­cause they didn’t have to have to work so hard to have the per­fect house.”

The pro­ducer dis­cov­ered that be­cause cou­ples started off with less, they ex­pected to go through the highs and lows to­gether that life threw up. The doc­u­men­tary also fea­tures Ned and Eileen Cu­sack who may well be Ire­land’s old­est mar­ried cou­ple with a record 73 years be­hind them.

Par­ents of seven, they live in Lough Cor­rib, and have chil­dren who are hav­ing their 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary, says Ro­den. Their shared sense of hu­mour, com­mon to all, is very ev­i­dent in the doc­u­men­tary.

“Some of the cou­ples have faced great ad­ver­sity, but even so, hav­ing a sense of hu­mour is there among them all; there is a lot of laugh­ing among all of them. It keeps a kind of fresh­ness in life. De­spite the ad­ver­sity some of them have gone through, they all have a cer­tain light­ness. You get that feel­ing that as long as they have each other they can face any­thing,” she says.

The idea for the doc­u­men­tary was first mooted by re­searcher Anita Ward but once the search for par­tic­i­pants be­gan through the me­dia and word of mouth, there was a great re­sponse.

“There were a huge amount of cou­ples out there. Fast for­ward another 30 years and I don’t think we will have the lux­ury of the choice we had,” says Ro­den.

“We spent about six weeks driv­ing around the coun­try meet­ing cou­ples and it was a very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to hone it down to those we fea­ture.” One as­pect of hav­ing such a pool of longer-liv­ing mar­ried cou­ples at their dis­posal was that peo­ple tied the knot at a much younger age. One of the women, for in­stance, hadn’t reached her 70th birth­day yet but had been mar­ried for half a cen­tury.

“Firstly peo­ple did marry younger, but se­condly there are that amount who have sim­ply weath­ered 50 years. It’s re­ally life af­firm­ing, it’s amaz­ing.

“We were prob­a­bly con­tacted by 35 to 40 cou­ples, who made di­rect ap­proaches to us. We prob­a­bly met a good 20 to 25. We made de­ci­sions on the ba­sis that some cou­ples were quite sim­i­lar in their pro­file, and we needed va­ri­ety for a doc­u­men­tary, so some cou­ples weren’t se­lected even though their sto­ries were also amaz­ing.”

The cou­ples who fi­nally fea­tured are Ned and Eileen Cu­sack, Lough Cor­rib, Gal­way; Pat and Kath­leen Mulc­ahy, Cork; Michael and Mary Burns, Gal­way; Joan and Pierce But­ler, Dublin; West Cork cou­ple Jack and Eileen Cot­ter; Johnny and Lucy Mad­den, Mon­aghan; Paddy and Joan Darcy, Dublin and Kees and An­neke Vo­ge­laar, who are orig­i­nally from Hol­land.

STEP­PING OUT: Dublin­ers Paddy and Joan Darcy have been mar­ried for 55 years and dance at least three times a week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.