Sunday 25 September 2016

The way we met: Irish couples share their real life love stories

Sick of the news of celebrity divorces and high profile break-ups? Us too. So let's take a few moments to bask in the glow of some real down-to-earth love stories, as told to our reporter

Published 18/10/2015 | 02:30

Martyn and Eve
Martyn and Eve
Alan & Gillian
Alan & Gillian and their beautiful baby girl.
Linda & Gary
Linda & Gary
Martyn and Ev
Natalie and Paul
Natalie and Paul

Remember the old couples at the start of When Harry Met Sally?

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The real life tales of ordinary, extraordinary love, told by real people and woven into a fictional narrative. The way two people meet and fall in love, or a 'meet cute' in Hollywood terms, is one of the most significant moments in their lives, fondly remembered and tinged with nostalgia.

Anyone who has an Instagram account will know it's primarily a space to display the visually appealing things in our lives - washboard abs (for a blessed few), pretty interiors and selfies to beat the band. But a new account has taken the social network by storm. The Way We Met (instagram.com/thewaywemet) showcases happy couples telling the stories of how they got together. Heart-warming and refreshing in a time when it seems Tinder is the only way to find love, and duckface pouting dominates social media, it's a modern take on an old-fashioned tale and it's helped despairing cynics remember that true love does exist.

Inspired by the account and in the name of promoting romance, we decided to ask some Irish married couples all about the way they met. Beware, the results may be tear-inducing...

Evelyn and Martyn

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Martyn: I've 'known' Evelyn since I was in primary school and started noticing girls. She was a year ahead of me in school so she never knew me, but I kept an eye on her all through secondary school and even at college in UCC. A friend from Limerick who ended up working with Ev after college actually recognised her from me showing him pictures of her when we were both in college. We finally met one night in Killarney through a mutual acquaintance. When she was introduced to me, I pretended not to know her and made her repeat her name so I wouldn't look like a creep.

Evelyn: Martyn says he always knew me but I honestly didn't know him. We first met on a night out through a mutual friend when we were both 23. I thought he was funny and handsome, and I liked that he was taller than me too.

Martyn: It didn't take long for Cupid to strike. For me it was always there superficially, because Ev is beautiful. The arrow hit harder once I got to actually know her. I remember the first time I spoke to her at length one-on-one, on a train journey from Killarney to Dublin; I really liked her.

Evelyn: One day I was on the train from Killarney to Dublin and saw Martyn. I invited him to come sit with me and we chatted. After that train trip we exchanged numbers, just as friends, and texted for a few months about everything and anything. Over a few months, feelings developed and then, bang.

Martyn: We got together just before Christmas in 2009. Ev had to go back up to Dublin in early January 2010 and although I wasn't back in college until mid-January, I hopped on the train to spend time with her. Our "first date" ended up being a week of dining, shopping and drinking hot chocolates in snowy Dublin. I knew then she was the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Evelyn: It was really romantic. I recall having a really unattractive red runny nose for most of it.

Martyn: We're happily married for almost a year now and really enjoying our first year of wedded bliss.

Evelyn: I'm married to my best friend, so I guess it doesn't get much better than that.

Alan and Gillian

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Gillian: I started following Alan on Twitter because he came up as a suggestion in my feed. I was tweeting away minding my own business and one day referenced the fact that I was getting my braces off, and Alan tweeted me thinking he was being funny, slagging me. From that point on, the tweeting was relentless. We had great banter and then we progressed onto direct messaging, perhaps the "second base" of Twitter. It got to a point where we would be messaging each other until 4am. After two months, Alan asked for my number and I dutifully gave it. I was sick with nerves expecting his call. Then after three months, he suggested we meet up. I can not begin to describe how nervous I was.

Alan: Because we had tweeted nonstop for months, our first date was just so much fun. It was like we knew each other for years. For me, when I saw her in the flesh, in her gorgeous blue dress, I'll admit it was love at first sight.

Gillian: Alan was living in Galway at the time, and me in Dublin. We both travelled up and down to see each other. After we were together two years, Alan was relocated to Dublin and we moved in together... and we haven't looked back since.

Alan: We've definitely packed in more in three years than some couples have in a lifetime. Gill's my best friend.

Gillian: In January 2014 we were out for a bite to eat, reflecting on the year gone by and our goals for the New Year. Don't ask me how it came up, but we sort of agreed to get married and start a family. Fast forward a year and a half later, I am now Mrs Swan and mum to a beautiful baby girl.

Alan: Gill is without doubt the best mother in the world and I would be truly lost without her. We invited one of the co-founders of Twitter to our wedding and he sent us a beautiful reply wishing us well. I thank Twitter every day.

Natalie and Paul

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Natalie: I was studying Fashion at Limerick School of Art and Design and met Paul through friends. He had just graduated from the Graphic Design course and was doing his MA in the University of Limerick. I thought he was handsome and I remember being quite drawn to him though I couldn't really figure out why. He was different from my usual type.

Paul: Before we had been introduced, I had seen Natalie in a bar and commented to a friend of mine "Now that is a girl I could marry". True story.

Natalie: We hung out and partied a few times before we actually got together. I thought there was something special about him but it was a slow burner.

Paul: For me it was instant, but Natalie took some convincing.

Natalie: I can't really remember which was our first date, but one of the early days Paul took me out to a lake on the back of his scooter for a swim, it was fun, I think we drank loads of wine.

Paul: We went swimming at Dromore Castle, Co Limerick. There's an amazing lake in the grounds, it was actually the location for Neil Jordan's 1988 film High Spirits. After that we whizzed onto Curraghchase Forest Park where I attempted to cook a meal on a camping stove, but the meal was an epic fail. After that is was safest to stick to wine.

Natalie: We've just celebrated our third wedding anniversary. It's been a crazy few years with work and travel and living in Dublin and London, but somehow it works.

Linda and Gary

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Linda: In the summer of 1995 I bumped into a friend of Gary's who asked me if I'd 'meet' Gary I was going out with someone else, but he finished with me just before I went in to Fifth Year. Gary was in my year, and I had an inkling he might fancy me after that encounter. I was attracted to him too. We ended up in the same class, but it was a mistake and I was moved up into a higher level class.

Gary: I asked her if she knew if I was getting moved as well. She said, "I don't know, and I don't care." She and her mate went off laughing thinking they were great. Later that day I was moved too - I walked into my new class and she was sitting there waiting for me.

Linda: Gary walked into my new class with a smirk on his face, and we got chatting and flirting - which for teenagers then, meant throwing paper balls at each other with messages on them. It was arranged we'd meet up, but he stood me up that night so I blanked him in class the next day. We made another date, but I knew I would stand him up as pay back. After that, we had a laugh about it and agreed to see each other properly.

Gary: Thankfully, she gave me a second chance, and here we are 20 years later with a lovely home and three wonderful little girls.

Linda: From that moment on we were inseparable, and we still are today. We renewed our vows last year for our 10th wedding anniversary. We fight, we have a great laugh together and we've been tested in some very difficult scenarios. But we get through everything together.

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