After a working life was dedicated to carefully scrutinising loans, perhaps retired bank manager Denis Hobson is best placed to help couples make the best investment of their lives.

Denis, a 70-year-old grandfather who lives in Abbeyfeale, was this week accredited by the Humanist Association of Ireland as a celebrant.

As well as weddings he will preside at the ‘naming’ of babies and funerals in an area which includes Kerry, Co Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and a large area of the western side of Co Cork.

Denis, who worked with the Bank of Ireland in Killorglin and Abbeyfeale before he retired in 1999 said: “I am a lapsed Catholic and I got interested in humanism at the naming of one of my grandchildren in Dublin about four yars ago. This ceremony would be like a Christian baptism, but non- religious. I became very interested in humanism as it takes in responsibility, respect and there is also a philosophical side to it.”

After joiing the humanist association, he became a regular attender at meetings in Cork and Dublin.

“Somebody then suggested that I should become a celebrant which is done by an apprenticeship. I had three mentors, all of them established celebrants and I would attend ceremonies they were doing and see how they planned ceremonies, meeting with couples who were planning to get married. I then had to do a test,” he said.

Denis said his involvement with amateur drama groups in Listowel, Abbeyfeale, Newcastle West and Athea over the years was of great benefit in training to be a celebrant.

He said: “At the weddings there is an element of performance and you have to present yourself in front of the wedding couple and their guests and this involves preparation and scripting yourself. The couple apply for a licence and this is approved by the HSE and they can choose the contents of the ceremony, whether that be the music and poetry. I might give certain suggestions. There can be rings, and it is not dissimilar to church weddings as there are vows specificed by the State and the signing of a register and the usual things you have at weddings. The beauty is that the couples have a big say in what the ceremony entails. In the lead up to the wedding there are meetings with the couple so that all their wishes can be taken on board for the big day.”

There are now 22 humanist celebrants in the country and given the huge area he will cover, Denis expects to be very busy on his new mission in life.

He said: “Humanist weddings are becoming increasingly popular and over my first year, I expect to be celebrant at about 70. Many of my colleagues do in excess of 100 weddings a year. I would expect also to be celebrant at many namings and funerals.”

Denis said as a bank manager he helped many young couples on the road to buying their first home.

“Now I am getting involved at the earlier very more important time, their wedding day. I am very much looking forward to many occasions, celebrating with couples and their families and friends.”


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