Home / About Us / News / January 2019 / Donation of the wedding dresses of Minister Katherine Zappone and Dr Ann Louise Gilligan to the Nat

Donation of the wedding dresses of Minister Katherine Zappone and Dr Ann Louise Gilligan to the Nat

Minister Zappone has offered the wedding dresses to the National Museum’s Contemporary Ireland Collection.


The National Museum of Ireland is delighted to announce the generous donation of the wedding dresses worn by Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, and her wife Dr Ann Louise Gilligan at their wedding ceremony at Dublin Castle in January 2016.

Minister Zappone has offered the wedding dresses to the National Museum’s Contemporary Ireland Collection, which collects and preserves items of importance to our nation throughout the history of the Irish Republic to the present day.

Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan met during their education in Boston College, and were together for 35 years. In Ireland, they were a constant force in the struggle for equal marriage rights as they fought for the Irish legal system to recognise their 2003 Canadian marriage.  Their actions were key to the re-igniting of the equality debate which eventually led to the establishment of civil partnership rights, and later the 2015 Marriage Equality referendum.

With this referendum, Ireland became the first state to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote. Katherine and Ann Louise were married again in Dublin two months after the new Marriage Act came into effect on the 16th November 2015. Sadly, Ann Louise passed away in June 2017. She left a valuable legacy through her work in the area of adult education, particularly for disadvantaged women in Ireland.

Curator Brenda Malone commented “As the wedding dresses become part of the NMI collections, they represent Katherine and Ann Louise’s love and life together, and their personal struggle for equal recognition. In a wider sense they also represent the Irish LGBTQ community’s struggle for equality, and the Irish nation’s story of social change. The NMI is committed to recording and preserving these stories”.

Director Lynn Scarff states “The National Museum is actively collecting the history of Irish society and its recent developments in order to tell Ireland’s story into the future. We are honoured by Minister Zappone’s donation of her and her wife’s wedding dresses and what they represent.  Through this gift, and future collecting, the museum takes an important step forward in representing all members of Irish society”.