WHEN Eilís Gleeson and Alan Swanwick were looking for a venue for their wedding, they wanted somewhere spectacular and beautiful — and in the end chose to create a little slice of Cork history.
At noon today, the Turners Cross couple were due to become the first people to marry at the renovated Triskel Christchurch arts centre.
After years of disuse, the former Church of Ireland building has been restored and is now a venue for civil weddings. It hasn’t witnessed a wedding since before it was de-consecrated, in 1978.
Eilís, 34, a teacher, says: “I had been looking up different locations when I contacted the Triskel. The man who answered said it was a coincidence since they had just been discussing having weddings there.
“We had been to a civil ceremony when friends of ours were married. I just felt it was such a beautiful and intimate ceremony. We felt we wanted something similar.
“We talked about it and went in for a meeting.
“The place is just absolutely beautiful. It is a spectacular venue. Everyone there has gone above and beyond to accommodate us. They have put my mind at ease several times. I can’t say enough about the place!”
In 2009, Triskel Arts Centre, founded in 1978, took on the restoration of 18th century Christchurch on South Main Street.
Having not been in use for years, the building is now a multimedia arts venue, a concert venue, cinema and gallery. Last year, it was announced it would also be available as a venue for civil weddings.
Artistic director Tony Sheehen explains: “The church was originally Church of Ireland but had not been in use for quite some time. It goes back, I think, to at least the 1730s.
“Cork City Council gave more than 4.8 million to have it restored. Everyone who walks through the doors comments on how beautiful the place is.
“It was always part of the plan to have weddings here, we wanted to get as much out of the building as we could and have as many uses for it as possible.
“Today in Ireland you do not need to have a civil wedding in a registrar. Couples can marry in approved buildings and the Triskel Christchurch is now one of them.
“It is not a religious ceremony and there are no religious symbols, no religious connotations. The registrar comes along and conducts the same civil ceremony as they would in the registry office.
“We provide a venue for people who want a civil wedding, who want to pursue the civil route, and it is exceptionally beautiful. There are pillars and stained glass. It has been restored to the original Georgian style.
“We are only a part of the couple’s big day but a very important one.
“We have had word out the last eight to nine months and we will be having our first ever wedding today. We will facilitate anything we can, our capacity is 300 people and we are looking into developing a partnership with the River Lee hotel where together we could provide something after the ceremony.
“We want to be as flexible as possible. Our guests would generally be with us for a period of three hours.”