This farmer proposed a week after meeting his wife, with two black eyes and a broken nose
Romance and marriage can blossom from the unlikeliest of circumstances as dairy farmer PJ Irish and his artist wife Marlay can testify
Dairy farmer PJ Irish and Marlay Brennan met for the first time in the casualty ward of the old Ardkeen hospital in Waterford in the mid 1980s. Both were getting patched up after an eventful day on the hurling fields of Kilkenny.
"He was in getting his nose straightened after being flattened in a hurling match in Kilkenny and I was sporting two black eyes and seven stitches on my forehead after being clattered in a camogie match in Castlecomer," Marlay recalls.
"PJ asked me to marry him a week later and I accepted. I was 22 and he was 26. It was meant to be and we have never regretted a moment since."
Fast forward three decades and the couple, who have reared five children, are running a thriving dairy farm in Slieverue in South Kilkenny.
And it's not just any dairy farm. Adjoining the Irish homestead is a painter's studio and gallery where Marlay exhibits her artwork; the space also plays host to the local Éigse drama and music group.
Despite the demands of a nursing career and family life, Marlay still found time to pursue her passion for art.
"I was always interested in art at school and had hoped to go to the College of Art after getting seven honours in my Leaving Cert but I didn't manage to get in so I changed and went nursing. I still work 20 hours a week at the job to this day. But I kept up painting throughout my nursing career, especially the GAA and animal scenes. I do an annual exhibition of my stuff at the Kilkenny Arts festival every year," adds Marlay who comes from a dairy farming background further up the county in Castlecomer.
"With five children coming along and running about it was just not practical to continue with the paintings in the house.