Oceans apart, but love was just click away for couple
When jeweller Nigel McGill met writer Rio Rox online, he was instantly smitten. And he wasn’t going to let the fact that she lived thousands of miles away in North Carolina put him off.
So taken was the romantic 38-year-old, from Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick, with the stylish poet and novelist from Gastonia, a suburb of Charlotte, that within two weeks of first making contact with her on a dating website in April, he'd boarded a plane to the US with an emerald ring in his pocket.
Rio picked him up at the airport on May 1 wearing a top hat and tails she'd made herself.
The following morning, Nigel, who works in Emerald Jewellery on Abbeyfeale's Main Street, decided they were going to spend the rest of their lives together.
"She wasn't expecting it. But I didn't ask her to marry me. I told her, 'you're marrying me'. I just knew".
The next day, the pair scrambled to obtain the marriage licence and the two witnesses they needed to become man and wife before the day was out.
Still elated with the success of the lightning courtship, Nigel said he never once doubted his heart. "Love is the ultimate truth. Love isn't a decision, it's a feeling."
For Rio's part, she said even though there was an ocean between them, Nigel stood out from all the other potential suitors.
"I had plenty of marriage proposals off people who had money. But I said 'no'. That wasn't what I wanted. When I was online, I blocked every man who tried to chat me up. But Nigel stood out straight away. He was just genuine. He made himself very vulnerable to me."
On July 21, after more than two months in the US, Nigel and his new wife relocated to Abbeyfeale to put down roots. Happily, Rio says she's a fan of rain and overcast skies and so is enjoying life in west Limerick.
"Rio has a fantastic sense of style," Nigel said. "She looks like a star. Last week we were in Newcastle West, and Rio had this black fedora hat and big mirror sunglasses on.
"These kids stopped her, because they thought she was Michael Jackson."