Thursday 19 July 2018

A perfectly pitched romance

Wendy Riordan and Shane Kirwan met in 2000 and now run a camping equipment business together

Wendy Riordan and Shane Kirwan run two businesses together. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Wendy Riordan and Shane Kirwan run two businesses together. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

It was at her sister Jane's birthday party in 2000 that Wendy Riordan first encountered her husband Shane Kirwan, who was a friend of Jane's then boyfriend and now husband, Steven. As they hung out at the Mill House pub in Stillorgan, Wendy noticed Shane, who was wearing a top with the number eight on it, and thought he was "totally hot".

Shane, alas, was oblivious to Wendy's charms that evening, but when she asked him to check out a car she was considering buying shortly afterwards, he rocked up on his motorbike, dressed from head to toe in leather. He advised her against buying the car, and they went on a date the following week. When asked who made the first move, Wendy thinks it was her. "Possibly me because I'm brazen," she laughs, "and he was a really nice guy."

Being a little more reserved, Shane was delighted that she expressed interest, and brought her to Yamamori for sushi. "Wendy is very bubbly and she fills the room when she walks in," he says. "She is very easygoing and a very good-looking girl, and she probably balances me because I'm a little shyer and she's more talkative."

When they met, Shane already had a three-year-old daughter, Erin, from a previous relationship, whom Wendy thought was adorable. She and Shane dated for a while, then broke up for a time and finally got back together. Wendy had bought an apartment in Bray during this time and Shane had bought a house in Clondalkin, where they now live. They went on to have their first child together, Lili, now 11, in 2005, followed by Realtin (5). They're also really close to Erin, who is now 21 and in college. They got married in 2013 in Leixlip Manor, and the wedding was great fun.

Wendy (41) is from Stillorgan in Dublin and comes fifth of Joe and the late Kathleen's seven children. Her mum sadly only died in February, and two of her older siblings, Pauline and Mark, have also passed away. "Shane didn't know me back when my brother and sister passed away, but he was a rock when Mammy died earlier this year," says Wendy. "I wouldn't have been able to get through it without him, and I still think about her all of the time."

Education-wise, Wendy went to what is now Letterkenny IT to do legal studies for two years, which didn't really suit her, and then went off travelling and lived in Australia for a while. She began working for telecoms company ATS in 2000, which has now been taken over by Welltel. An expert in telephony, she is senior consultant for VoIP technology solutions and data networks. She is also in the middle of studying nutritional therapy, which is an area of huge interest to her.

Shane (43) comes in the middle of Sadie and Shay Kirwan's three children, and he grew up in Clondalkin, although his parents have now retired to Bulgaria. After training as a mechanic, he did a management degree course by night in business management with the IMI. He began working in various retail management positions after that, and gave up retail in April to become self-employed.

Shane's sister Fiona took care of the children up to then while they both worked full-time, but now Shane combines being a stay-at-home dad with their new business. One impetus for starting the business was that they had been toying with the idea of moving to a larger house, and then realised that they didn't want to be saddled with a bigger mortgage for years to come. The idea for the business came to them when a friend was talking about his experience of camping at festivals and dragging all of his camping equipment along for miles.

There are a few strands to what they do, all camping and festival-related. Firstly, they have a website called Pamper the Camper, where you can buy your tent and camping equipment, and collect it at the festival to save yourself the hassle of dragging everything down. They also sell accessories and necessities on site, like poles and pegs and "pee bags".

Then they have Pitched Perfect, where you can rent pre-pitched tents for two, four, six or eight on site, depending on the festival. They come complete with airbeds, sleeping bags, torches and toiletries. Wendy and Shane have been present at most of the major festivals this year and will be at Electric Picnic next weekend. Included in the pre-pitched camping packages is access to the Pitched Perfect Pamper Parlour, complete with hairdressers and make up artists. You can have your hair styled or blow-dried, have festival make up applied and other pampering treatments.

While Wendy works full-time in her telecoms job, she helps out with the business at evenings and weekends. "Wendy is very together and organised," says Shane. "She is a very strong person. What drives me mad is her shoes - they're everywhere all over the house."

Wendy says Shane's most annoying habit is that he sometimes doesn't appear to be listening to her suggestions, but will later present them as his own ideas. "He is very rarely in a bad mood and has a very even temperament," she says. "He's the calmer of the two of us and is very level-headed. And his priority is always looking after us - his girls - and making sure that we're OK."

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