English rugby player searches for Irish girl he let slip away . . . in 1958
THEY met nearly 60 years ago, a young English rugby player on tour and the Irish girl with whom he shared a "dance and a chat".
Now Michael Freer (79) is desperately searching for Bridie Fortune, the girl who caught his eye during a rugby tour to Dublin.
The former Leicester player was in the Lansdowne Road area for a weekend in November 1958, where he played against a local team.
He has forgotten who his opponents were that day – but he could never forget the "very nice girl" with whom he danced and talked that night.
After returning to England, he decided to send a letter to a Dublin address she had mentioned, and he managed to get in touch with Bridie.
They met in London in 1961, but Michael's job in the Metropolitan Police Force put an untimely end to the reunion.
"I got a phone call from the office and I had to rush off to catch a train.
"I never got a contact number for her because I had to leave so quickly," said Michael.
The retired Englishman admits that he has never forgiven himself for the way things happened during that meeting in 1961.
"I'm annoyed because I let her down. She had bought tickets to see a film in the theatre, and I didn't get to pay her back," he added.
Mr Freer later married and settled in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, but his wife died some years ago.
He has now begun looking for Bridie Fortune again, taking out newspaper adverts in a bid to track her down – and perhaps repay her for those tickets.
But he admitted that his efforts so far have been in vain.
"I think it's kind of like trying to find a needle in a haystack," he said.
"It's amazing how many bloody Fortunes [surname] are in Ireland, it's crazy."
He has talked to four Bridie Fortunes in the past fortnight, but none of the conversations have come to anything.
He fears he has exhausted all avenues in finding the one Fortune he is looking for, but still holds out hope.
Are you the Bridie Fortune who met Michael Freer in 1958, or do you think you know her? Please email the Irish Independent news desk at email@example.com or call 01705 5711