Monday 18 December 2017

Bondings: Xpose's Lisa Cannon's rarebit of romance

Richard Keatley's Parisian proposal to Xpose's Lisa Cannon left her uncharacteristically lost for words

LOVE MATCH: Lisa Cannon and rugby player Richard Keatley weren’t looking for love when they met four years ago, but it still found them. Photo: Naomi Gaffey, courtesy of VIP magazine
LOVE MATCH: Lisa Cannon and rugby player Richard Keatley weren’t looking for love when they met four years ago, but it still found them. Photo: Naomi Gaffey, courtesy of VIP magazine
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

Handsome Welsh rugby player Richard Keatley has Gok Wan to thank for helping to bring about his engagement to TV presenter, Lisa Cannon. Apart from her beauty, the first thing he noticed when he spotted her in Tonic bar in Blackrock in April 2011, was that she was wearing cool, white glasses from the fashion expert's range, and they provided him with a handy ice-breaker, as he asked her if he could try them on.

"I saw Richard dancing crazily in the corner, and he was eyeing me up with those sparkly blue eyes," says Lisa, 36. "He came over and we ended up chatting for ages. I found him attractive, of course, but we had both recently come out of eight-year relationships and I wasn't looking to meet anyone. I had planned to go on lots of holidays with my friends, but Richard came into my life and threw everything around. He was a blessing that never left."

Not being into rugby, Lisa hadn't a clue who Richard was, and he had no idea that she is a TV presenter. She was a bit hesitant initially, as she wasn't sure if she should rush into anything so soon after the demise of her previous relationship, but her girlfriends were very encouraging because Richard was so lovely. "It was a great courtship, and the more time I spent with him, the more I liked him," she says. "He was really special."

Richard, 31, is from Carmarthen in west Wales, and has an older brother, Jason, a BBC TV production manager whose credits include Doctor Who and Being Human. Richard played rugby from an early age, and decided to pursue it as a career, as he says that playing for the national team is every little Welsh boy's dream. A dream that happily came true for him, as he played for the Welsh Ospreys and for Wales.

He came to Ireland in 2003 and played for Connacht and Leinster at various points, and moved between Rugby Union and Rugby League teams both here and in the UK over the next few years. As well as managing a wholesale channel for a telecommunications company, he now plays club rugby with Clontarf and is on the Ireland Rugby League team. He has had a few injuries along the way, which he says is very frustrating. "I would like to try and get a couple more caps for Ireland in the summer, and then hang up the boots for good," he says. "It would be nice to play against Wales once more, or even England."

The warm and chatty Lisa firmly believes that Richard was sent to her by her late mum, Laura, who passed away from cancer in 2008, aged 59. An only child, the brunette was very close to her mum, who taught English, French and German. She is also devoted to her dad Michael, who is a maths and English teacher. Lisa's parents separated when she was 10, and she lived between her mum's house in Leopardstown and her dad's house in Malahide. In fact she still spends every Sunday with her father, 26 years later.

Lisa became a prefect at Mount Anville, and was thrilled to be presented with the school prize for outstanding achievement in the arts by President Mary McAleese. Then she did a degree in drama and theatre studies at Trinity followed by an MA in film, and worked on RTE's Nationwide and produced a documentary for NBC and Channel 4 on John Lennon's 25th anniversary.

She also had an envy-inducing job as production assistant on Sex and the City in New York, where her tasks included dropping scripts to the trailers of Sarah Jessica Parker and the cast. She is now a presenter on the popular entertainment, fashion and beauty show Xpose on TV3, and will be in LA to cover the red carpet at the Oscars next weekend.

Lisa had her own fairytale moment when Richard proposed to her in Paris in 2013, in the gardens of Le Palais-Royal. He went to huge trouble, by organising a musician disguised as a busker to sing an acoustic version of Snow Patrol's Just Say Yes as they passed by a fountain. Richard got down on one knee, and used Lisa's late mother's engagement ring to pop the question.Then a chauffeur-driven limo brought them back to their hotel, where staff were waiting with a champagne reception, cake and roses. Lisa found it very emotional and was lost for words, and says that she loves that Richard is so romantic.

"I spoke to Lisa's dad's before we went to Paris, which was a bit nerve-wracking, but it went very well," says Richard. "I wasn't nervous proposing, but arranging it was worrying because I don't speak French. What I love about Lisa is that she's so considerate and kind, and puts everyone before herself. We're very much on the same page. What drives me mad is that she is so busy, she's messy around the house and every room is a "floordrobe," so I'm like her mammy nagging her to tidy it."

Lisa and Richard are getting married in Florence, Italy, in September, and their family and close friends will attend, including Richard's parents, Douglas and Wendy. The Xpose crew have all been invited too. Lisa's beloved granny, Nora, is 102 in April, so she won't be able to travel, but they plan to go over and spend time with her in London, and maybe do a little blessing there just for her. Nora got married at 36 and had seven children, but Lisa laughingly says that she and Richard will try for one child, and see how they get on after that. "We haven't decided on a honeymoon yet, but we're thinking of going where Kate and Wills went in the Seychelles," she says. "We want to go all out, because I have a month off."

Lisa says that Richard is thoughtful, funny and sensitive, and she loves that he is kind, especially to her adorable little dog, Lulu. He brings her breakfast in bed at least twice a week, and he packs her lunch for her. "Richard texts me at least four times a day to tell me he loves me, and the honeymoon period hasn't stopped in the four years," she says. "We are very much in love with each other. What drives me mad is his passion for fashion. He has his wedding suit already and is always looking up the top designers. Richard watches all the fashion weeks, and while I love fashion, he is definitely the bigger fashionista in our house!"

Xpose, TV3, weekdays 6-7 pm

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