Despite the rise in popularity of online dating services such as Plenty of Fish and Tinder, a sizeable number of Catholics in search of love are still opting instead for the matchmaking services of Knock Marriage Introductions.
It is the oldest matchmaking agency in Ireland, founded in 1968 to help Catholics find a suitable marriage partner, and Knock Marriage Introductions revealed this week that it registered almost 2,000 enquiries in 2014.
Some 370 people wrote to the agency last year while a further 1,500 got in touch by phone.
In its annual report, officially published yesterday (Thursday ), the service outlined how it has made 925 marriages since 1968.
Last year alone, they successfully matched five couples in marriage, helped five couples get engaged and saw a further 20 couples settled in a steady relationship.
Leona Connery, who works at Knock Marriage Introductions, said people of all ages use the service, from young men and women in their late 20s up to those in their 70s.
“It is certainly a very interesting job,” she said. “And we are always absolutely delighted to hear the good news when couples contact us and tell us they are engaged to be married.”
Last year, one couple not from Mayo paid tribute to the way in which they found love by travelling back to Knock Shrine to get engaged at midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
Ms Connery said the marriage introduction service is “way ahead” of internet and speed dating.
“We have people using our service who have tried both and still come back to us because it is a success,” she said.
Most of the women using the service are professionals such as accountants, teachers, and doctors, while more than 50 per cent of the men are farmers.
The service was founded in 1968 by the late Fr Michael Keane, a native of Claremorris.
At that time, with emigration rates extremely high, it aimed to introduce returning emigrants to women at home.
Canon Joseph Cooney took over at the helm of the service in 2005.
In 2014, 196 people in total applied for membership - with an almost even ratio of men (93 ) to women (103 ).
Women in Cork used the service most with 15 joining up, followed by women from Galway (12 ) and then Mayo (10 ).
The report shows women from almost every county in Ireland are using the service.
Men from Mayo and Galway make-up the largest number of male subscribers followed by Cork and Roscommon. Men from every county in Ireland except Derry, Louth, and Waterford are on the books.
Contact Knock Marriage Introductions on (094 ) 93 75960 or visit www.knockmarriageintroductions.com