When sand sculptor Daniel Doyle got down on one knee at the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, his actor and writer girlfriend, Clodagh Downing, had no idea she was just about to agree to become the family's seventh bride for the seventh brother of the Doyle family. Daniel had asked her to read a script he had written aloud to see how it sounded in the acoustics of the stunning basilica, and it ended with: "She tells me that my shoelace is open."
As Clodagh read that line, Daniel dropped to one knee, ostensibly to act out tying the lace, and told her that he no longer wanted her to be his girlfriend. He wanted her to become his wife instead. She agreed, and the happy couple tied the knot in January of this year.
The first time Clodagh saw Daniel was in 2009, when he collected an award for an amateur film he had made. "I thought, 'Him'," she says, "It was just a feeling, and it was weird because I had kind of given up on relationships. It wasn't love at first sight, it was more a knowledge of, 'that's him!'"
Two weeks later, Daniel happened to come to an open mic night where Clodagh was performing an extract from her one-woman show, Lauren Begone, which was initially written for the 2009 Dublin Fringe Festival. Daniel was entranced at her performance and the visual beauty of the scene unfolding, but Clodagh says that this is not surprising, as she practically performed the piece directly to him.
"It was a bit surreal, as the room was all smoky and black and white, and it took me back to the 1940s," he says. "I thought, 'wow, this is so beautiful,' and approached Clodagh afterwards and asked her if she had ever had a film made of it? I thought it would make a lovely short film."
The pair agreed to work on the short together, and met regularly over the next few months to plan it. Clodagh had fallen for Daniel already, but he says that he's a "bit thick" when it comes to matters of the heart, and thought that she was out of his league.
Clodagh is from Glengariff, Cork, and is the youngest of Patrick and Maureen Downing's five children. Her dad was a tailor while her mum was a teacher, but they subsequently opened several businesses, including The Blue Pool Hotel and The Spinning Wheel Cafe and Shop. They also had the first bureau de change outlet in Ireland. Sadly Clodagh's dad and brother Paul died four years apart – Patrick, aged 57, from heart problems, and Paul, 29, following a car accident.
Clodagh had always wanted to be an actress, inspired in part, by Glengariff's most famous native, Maureen O'Hara. She went to UCC to study English and Spanish, and got involved with the drama society there, and then went to study acting at Manchester Metropolitan University. When she returned to Ireland, she started acting and writing, and is currently appearing in Danny and The Deep Blue Sea with Edwin Mullane, directed by Peter Reid.
Daniel, 41, is the youngest of ten children – three boys and seven girls. His mother Annie was a home-maker, while his dad Pierce was the maintenance man in Belcamp College. Alas for Daniel, he attended that school, so had his father on the premises keeping a watchful eye on him. Thinking he would like to become an illustrator, he attended art college at DIT, but discovered the sculpture department there and fell in love with working with stone and metal.
However, it was after he graduated and received an invitation to Denmark to take part in a sand sculpture project that he was bitten by that particular bug. It has taken him all over the world, and he will shortly travel to Kuwait to take part in a huge sand-sculpting project with 70 other carvers. Having been involved for several years with the sand sculptures at Dublin Castle, Daniel also hopes to run the first international Irish sand-sculpting festival next summer, and Clodagh has come on board to help with the PR.
In addition, Daniel and two colleagues have set up a sculpture studio together, Duthain Dealbh, where they make sand or ice centrepieces for events and weddings (see www.duthain-dealbh.com).
He and Clodagh finally got together when, after a lovely day looking at locations, they went for dinner and then on to an Italian cafe bar. It was getting cosy when he clammed up, so she walked off in a huff, asking him why he always became distant at moments when things were getting intimate. She came back, though, and then they kissed.
"I had never thought it was possible," admits Daniel. "What really drew me to Clodagh was her talent, mixed with the fact that she's also quite beautiful. She also works with people who has Asperger's, so there is a kind heart there, and she has great drive."
What Clodagh liked about Daniel was that she felt he was self-assured and was very content to be "his own person in his own skin".
His blue eyes also didn't escape her notice, nor his warmth and kindness, nor that he was, as she puts it, "an amazing figure of a man".
He might think that she's too impulsive at times, while she laments that he's a bit laidback, but the success of this tale of two newlyweds proves that sometimes, you just know. And as for Lauren Begone, the film that brought them together, it eventually got made and has been selected for the Kerry Film Festival, It will be screened next Friday. He might think that she's too impulsive at times, while she laments that he's a bit laidback, but the success of this tale of two newlyweds proves that sometimes, you just know!
'Danny and The Deep Blue Sea' is running at the Viking Theatre, Clontarf, until October 12, at the St John's Theatre, Listowel on November 6, and the Civic Theatre Tallaght from the November 12-16. www.face book.com/backofthehand