WOMEN in Laois are embracing same-sex marriage at a higher rate than men, new figures reveal.
Five female couples tied the knot in the county last year, while there were only two male wedding couples, according to the latest report from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The Marriages 2017 report released last Thursday shows that there were 342 marriages in Laois last year, with only seven involving same-sex couples.
The county came joint 11th with Carlow out of 15 areas in Leinster in terms of the number of same-sex marriages. Only Offaly (2), Longford (2) and south Dublin (4) had a lower number of same-sex weddings.
The report also shows that three of the same-sex wedding couples in Laois opted for Humanist ceremonies, while the remainder chose a Spiritualist Union of Ireland ceremony (2), a civil ceremony (1) or an alternative form of religious celebration (1).
The number of same-sex marriages fell slightly in Laois last year, down from nine in 2016. The higher number of female wedding couples in the county is also a change from 2016, when only three of the wedding couples were female. Same-sex marriages accounted for 3.4% of all marriages in 2017.
Meanwhile, the total number of marriages in Laois fell slightly from 377 in 2016 to 342 last year. The average age of local brides was 33 years and six months, while the average age of grooms was 35 years and four months. However, four grooms and three brides were aged under 20, while five grooms and two brides were aged 60 or over.
It was also the second time round for a small number of wedding couples in Laois. Last year’s grooms included four widowers and 16 divorcees, while there were 16 divorcees but no widows among the brides.
Nationally, the average age of all grooms in 2017 was the highest to date at 36.1 years, while men in same-sex marriages were 40.3 years on average. The average age of brides was 34.1, compared with 40.5 for female same-sex marriages.