Saturday 21 April 2018

Lovestruck Irish man ploughs field for sky-high proposal to sweetheart

Barry Mullen’s fiancee Hannah Starr proudly shows off her engagement ring
Barry Mullen’s fiancee Hannah Starr proudly shows off her engagement ring

Rachel Martin

Meet the lovestruck Irish man who went to great lengths - and heights - to get a wife.

Barry Mullen from Cloughey took to the skies to propose to girlfriend Hannah Starr with the message of love ploughed into his farmer father's field.

The 30-year-old laid the groundwork for his plan months ago, dropping hints to his friends and family about how he would love to fly over the Ards Peninsula for his 30th birthday.

So no one was surprised when Barry's uncle Tommy apparently bought him a flight over his home village for his birthday.

The message in the field
The message in the field

But little did they know that Barry had a plan up his sleeve - the architect had secretly asked his work colleagues for help designing 70-foot tall letters he could plough into one of his dad's fields with a surprise message for his girlfriend.

Using architecture software AutoCAD, the team designed the letters to scale in a combination that would fit in the field and also be simple enough to mark out with a plough.

Disaster struck on the week of the flight, and at one point it seemed the plans were up in the air as a worried Barry realised the stormy weather on April 1 would ground him.

However, quick thinking saved the surprise as Barry noticed perfect conditions forecast for the day before, and decided to move the flight forward. The night before Barry told Hannah he had agreed to stay late on the farm helping Tommy get ready for an inspection by officials the next day.

Combining his farming and design skills, Barry, his dad and Tommy began the painstaking process of laying out markers for the lines to plough into the small hours of the night.

Devoted Barry said he even considered trying to turn the tractor headlights off while he worked so that neighbours wouldn't spoil the surprise.

The couple in the aircraft
The couple in the aircraft

But, just in case, he had even planned the letters in such a way that they couldn't be read from the roadside.

However, he said the feat was harder than it looked.

He explained: "I started to mark out the 'H' and I realised I wouldn't have time to write out 'Hannah' in full, so I changed it to say 'HB'.

"It was hard to see where to put the lines in the dark so I got my dad and uncle to stand at each end of the line, and, under the tractor lights, ploughed from person to person.

"When you're on the ground you don't know what it will look like from the sky, so the plan really helped."

As for Hannah - of course she said "yes".

She said: "The pilot was really good; he pretended he didn't know anything about it, even though Barry had been around speaking to him the night before about it.

"I really had no idea!"

The primary school teacher said her pupils had taken great delight that Barry - who had done talks for the pupils on farming - had asked her to marry him and said some of the children at the Carryduff school had even made her cards.

She said: "He told me his uncle was having this farm inspection so he needed to stay late to help him get everything organised.

"He made it seem so real, so I didn't question it.

"I had wondered if he had something planned but when he said about the inspection I thought: 'No, definitely not, he'd be too busy to be thinking about anything else'.

"It really shows his personality; it's not showy and didn't cost a lot, but it was a really lovely, personal thing to do."

The Cloughey pair are now building a home together in the village.

And while they haven't picked a date for their big day yet, they say they are considering a spring 2018 wedding.

Belfast Telegraph

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