By Lynne Kelleher
There has been a dramatic drop-off in young Irish women marrying older men in the past two decades — but an increasing number of middle-aged women are swapping vows with more elderly husbands.
In Hollywood, a significant age gap appears to be commonplace among the most high-profile celebrity marriages, with nearly 12 years between power couple Beyoncé, 37, and Jay Z, 48, and 11 years between A-listers Blake Lively, 31, and Ryan Reynolds, 42.
Meanwhile, the world’s one-time most famous bachelor George Clooney, 57, and his human rights lawyer wife, Amal, 40, were not bothered about their 17-year age gap when they married in Venice, Italy.
CSO figures show that, in Ireland, the number of teenage brides tying the knot with a husband who is a decade or more older than them dropped from 49 in 2001 to just four last year.
The number of women in their twenties marrying a man more than 10 years older has plummeted by nearly 60% from 607 marriages in 2001 to 261 in 2017.
Women under the age of 35 all follow the downward trend when it comes to marrying men a decade older — but this is reversed when it comes to women in their late thirties.
There has been a 50% rise in Irish women between 35 and 39 years of age marrying men who are 10 or more years older, from 145 in 2001 to 215 last year.
There were 119 marriages between women in their 40s and men a decade or more older in 2001 — and that almost doubled to 234 last year.
And the increase is even more pronounced in women in their fifties although the number of marriages is smaller, with nearly three times as many older brides opting for marriages with more elderly grooms.
In 2001, 37 women in their fifties married men more than 10 years older compared to 102 last year.
Overall, the figures show that there has been a slight, 6% drop in women marrying men 10 or more years older in the last 16 years, from 1,212 marriage in 2001 to 1,138 marriages in 2017.
While there is a 25-year age gap between Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner and her boyfriend Corey Gamble, Irish men are more reluctant to walk down the aisle with a more mature woman.
Nearly seven times more Irish women than men will marry a partner a decade or more older.
The number of men marrying women a decade older than them is much lower, with 220 marriages in 2001 compared to just 165 in 2017.
Of the 165 marriages, 63 were men in their twenties marrying a woman who was 10 years or more older than them while only 24 men marrying women a decade or more older than them were in their forties.