Tuesday 25 April 2017

Confessions of a first date

What happens when two like-minded 40-year-olds match online profiles that have been carefully curated by a dating fairy godmother? Our reporter finds out…

Rachel Byrne pictured in Carlow. Picture Dylan Vaughan.
Rachel Byrne pictured in Carlow. Picture Dylan Vaughan.
Nigel Keeshan at his home in Ballincorr, Shinrone, Co Offaly. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

Chrissie Russell

After a decade in the business, matchmaker Sharon Kenny (thematchmaker.ie) prides herself on being able to pair up compatible couples. "I get a gut feeling about who will work," she explains. "I also create very detailed profiles looking at location, hobbies, morals, background, personalities, expectations and goals in life. But meeting them in person means the vibe I get off them really comes into it as well."

Some 80pc of her matches end up going on at least four dates - after which things usually take off. Last month she decided to set up Carlow-based acupuncturist Rachel Byrne (40) with Nigel Keeshan (40), a truck-driver from Co Offaly, convinced they'd hit it off.

"They're both easy-going and well balanced," she reveals. "They're both very happy-go-lucky. Hard-working but the laugh comes first. I feel they're going in the same direction and up for anything." Let's see if she was right….

Rachel on Nigel

What were your expectations of the date?

I was just hoping for a coffee that he wouldn't run away from. My expectations were so low! I actually thought "was I wasting my money?" But the reality was much more amazing.

What was it about his profile that made you agree to meet in person?

He just seemed very straight-up honest, there were no frills about him. He wasn't living in fantasy land or coming out with any romantic nonsense that he wasn't going to follow through on. Just a straight-forward guy.

What were your first impressions?

Oh my God he has such an honest face. He has a lovely face, very cute.

What did you talk about?

The news was on the TV in the hotel we met in so we talked about Apollo House for a while - not the most romantic. We also talked about why we'd signed up, and it was because we were both looking for someone, and we're not pub-goers. We'd never have found each other without Sharon. Because we'd both met Sharon, we had that as a shared experience to talk about and that was something positive. You need positive things to talk about otherwise you're just on a slippery slope of just giving out.

Any funny moments?

When I went in I wasn't expecting to meet anyone nice. I'd decided to go in, have a coffee, and go home, so when I met him I was a bit tongue-tied, I could hardly talk.

Any awkward moments?

Other than that, no, not for me.

Any criticisms?

Ah God no. He was there first and early which was brilliant. No, I couldn't fault him at all.

What's the best thing about Nigel?

He's really laid back, nothing can really wind him up.

What would your friends think of him?

Yes, they'd love him. They'd like that he can laugh at himself.

How would you describe Nigel in three words?

Cute. Honest. Brave.

How was it left?

We left it that we would meet again.

Did you kiss at the end of the night?

He tried and I got it wrong. He went in for the kiss and I thought he was going for the cheek and we just sort of bumped chins. Oh my God, so awkward.

Anything you'd have done differently?

I probably wouldn't have talked as much.

How many marks out of 10?

It couldn't have gone any better - 10.

Nigel on Rachel

What were your expectations of the date?

Just hoping to meet someone like-minded and easy going.

What was it about them that made you agree to meet in person?

I read her profile and it seemed to fit with what I was looking for and I just thought 'sure nothing ventured nothing gained'.

What were your first impressions?

She caught my eye when she walked in the door.

What did you talk about?

We had stuff in common and covered a wide range of everything really - even politics, the whole lot. She'd the same kind of reaction to life as myself and similar views.

Any funny moments?

When we first met I didn't know whether to give her a kiss on the cheek or shake her hand, so I shook her hand.

Any awkward moments?

No, none at all.

Any criticisms?

No, not one thing.

What's the best thing about Rachel?

Her attitude - she's very 'take it as it comes, worry about it when it happens'.

What would your friends think of her?

They'd like her. My friends are the same as myself; fairly relaxed, easy-going lads and girls, and she'd fall in there fine.

How would you describe Rachel in three words?

Smart, witty and good-looking.

How was it left?

We planned to meet the following week.

Did you kiss at the end of the night?

A peck on the cheek.

Anything you'd have done differently?

No. The location was grand and relaxed, they were playing music, and it was just nice and relaxed. I can't say I would do anything different.

How many marks out of 10?

10. No wait! Did she give me 10? I'm not giving her 10 if she didn't give me 10…

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