Wednesday 24 January 2018

A smashing start to Kev and Paula's romance

After her marriage break-up, make-up artist to the stars Paula Callan has found love again with fiance Kev Cronin

Make-up artist Paula Callan will marry Kevin Cronin in October. Photo: Steve Humphreys.
Make-up artist Paula Callan will marry Kevin Cronin in October. Photo: Steve Humphreys.
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

When Kev Cronin and Paula Callan first met five years ago in Lillie's Bordello, she decided to lay her cards on the table. "I spotted Kev because he was staring at me, and eventually he mooched his way over," she recalls. "The first thing I said was, 'You don't want to talk to me, as I'm 35 and have three kids and an ex-husband.' I thought he was very cute but I didn't know his age and presumed he would be totally repelled by that."

Kev was 25 and says that although he wouldn't normally blatantly make a move on a girl, Paula really caught his eye that night and he thought she was gorgeous. Even though she outlined why he shouldn't talk to her, he didn't care and they chatted all evening. Kev then walked Paula to a taxi and as he was showing her photos of his newborn niece, she dropped his phone and it smashed, much to her embarrassment.

"I got a fair idea of what kind of person Kev was that evening, as he was very family-orientated and loved kids," says Paula. "We swapped numbers and my friend Kate convinced me to call him. I wouldn't have been used to doing anything like that as I hadn't dated since before I was married. It moved pretty quickly, and soon we were inseparable."

Kev grew up in Walkinstown, the middle child of Joan and Barney Cronin's five children. He moved to the UK aged 16 to play football with Leeds United for four years. "I got an injury and was out for a year so that could have been why my contract wasn't renewed," he muses. "I was devastated coming home from England."

Kev signed with an Irish club but it didn't work out, so he went on to qualify as an electrician. He now works as a postal operative with An Post. It took a few months for Paula to introduce Kev to her children, but he got on really well with them and wasn't bothered when his mates ribbed him. "They said I went to Lillie's on a Friday night and was doing the school run on Monday morning," he laughs. "The stick is still around, but it doesn't faze me at all."

Paula, 41, is from Ayrfield on Dublin's northside and is the second-eldest of Joey and Olivia's six children. Her parents separated when she was 11. She was previously married to hairdresser Mark O'Keeffe and they share custody of Charlotte, 9, Isabella 8, and Ely, 6. Paula was worried that having an instant family might be too much for Kev and told him to let her know if he was getting cold feet before the relationship went any further, but he insisted he wasn't going anywhere. When she discovered after six months that she was pregnant with their son Caleb, now 4, Kev was delighted.

Kev proposed to Paula almost two years ago. She was shocked as he isn't romantic so it was extra special. Mind you, when she came home after working at a wedding in Cavan to find candles lighting all over the house, her first thought was that Kev was having an affair. "I saw champagne and strawberries in the kitchen and didn't know what was going on, and then Caleb came in with a little box in his hand. He was wearing a t-shirt that said, 'Mammy, will you marry my grumpy daddy?' I burst into tears when I realised what was happening, and then Kev came in then and said, 'Well, will you?' I said yes, and we're getting married in October."

It's not just the wedding keeping her busy at the moment, as Paula opened her new salon, Callan & Co in Ballsbridge earlier this week. She started off her career as a model, but preferred the make-up side of the business. She spent 10 years with MAC and left to start Brown Sugar with Mark, although she left after their marriage break-up. "Mark and I have a good relationship now that things have settled, and we even spent Charlie's Communion together," says Paula. "He is also very good to Caleb and will send up birthday presents for him, and I would do the same for his son Riley. At the end of the day, we're a family. It's just a different family and we try to work the best we can with the way things are."

Paula is one of the most sought-after make-up artists in the country, and women everywhere will be delighted that her new salon does hair, make-up, nails, lash extensions and HD brows and also has a tanning studio. Paula has been teaching her Callanberry make-up classes with her great friend Derrick Carberry in recent years, and the classes will move into her gorgeous new premises. "My dad Joey, Kev and his friend Sean did an amazing job on the building, and Dad made all the furniture," says the lovely Paula. "There is pressure and it's scary, but I'm so excited. We have a wedding service within the shop so we'll be looking after brides, and have partnered up with the Dylan hotel to do bridal showers in the form of afternoon tea and pampering."

Paula says the marriage break-up was a "horrible" time, but she's very happy and content now. "My life has totally transformed, so someone is looking down on me," she says. "Kev is really reliable and is happy to come home and sit with me and the kids, watch a movie or go out for dinner. His family have always made me and the kids feel so welcome. We have a simple life and there are no flash elements or partying."

Handsome Kev says that Paula is the worst time-keeper he has ever met, but he loves that she always sees the good in everyone. "She was even an hour late for our first date but she was well worth the wait," he laughs.

Callan & Co., 1 St. Mary's Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Tel: 01 668 0060

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