Feargal Harrington and Rena Maycock are to wed later this month, thanks to some matchmaking. Their agency is helping others find love too.
'YOU'RE only as old as the young man you feel," jokes Rena Maycock, who at 35 is slightly older than her fiance and business partner, Feargal Harrington, 30. "I was friends with Feargal's brother Eoin when we were teenagers, but Feargal was only 12 so I didn't pay attention to him. Eoin is a singer/ songwriter who lives in San Francisco now, so I met him for a drink when he was home in 2010 and Feargal came along too. Eoin did a bit of matchmaking and thought we would make a great couple."
Eoin is not the only matchmaker, it seems, as when they were together six months, the chatty Rena and Feargal set up Intro Matchmaking together. It was quite optimistic of them, they admit, given the newness of their relationship.
Feargal admits that when Rena walked into the bar, dressed in black and wearing five-inch heels, he thought he hadn't got a chance with her. However, they went out another night as a group and enjoyed a little kiss, and it all took off from there. So what attracted them to each other?
"I liked that Feargal answered back and was a bit of a challenge," says Rena. "He was a bit of an a***hole and I liked it, as he would playfully ridicule me and I wasn't used to that. I admired his confidence too. He is a salesperson and he sold himself to me. After a week he told me he didn't want to see anyone else. He's not into mind games or waiting around, and he had the balls to just go for it. After about 10 months, we moved in together, and now have our two Labradors, Bob and Rascal."
Rena and Feargal are getting married in less than two weeks in Ballymagarvey Village in Meath. It will be a two-day occasion, with 200 guests joining them, including Rena's dad Martin, who owns a courier company, mum, Letty, an office manager, and her older sister, Karen. Feargal's family will be there too. He's the youngest of Jerome and the late Mary Ita's four children. His mum sadly passed away in 1995, aged 54, from a five-year battle with cancer, when he was only 11.
"My dad took over everything, which must have been very hard," he says. "He came up trumps, working as a building contractor and providing for us all, and then coming home to take on the mammy role. My aunties and older sister Sinead were great too. It was tough, but I grew up a lot. Kids at the time would go on about hating their parents for not letting them go out, but I really appreciated what was important."
After school, Rena progressed through radio sales to become chief executive of iRadio. "As a 21-year-old, starting in radio was great, as money came easily in 2003," she says. "I had a sports car and bought a house, but during the downturn, advertising revenue was really hard to come by. That was when Feargal and I decided to start our own business in our spare time. He was working in the estate agency business and the money just wasn't there either, so we decided to set up a dating agency. I've set up people who are married now, and we have a lot of single friends, so we felt we could make it easier for people to meet someone. When we built it up and it was secure enough to leave our jobs, I went in full-time and Feargal joined me a few months later."
Rena and Feargal now have offices in Dawson Street, and they meet prospective clients there and all over the country to get to know them. Then they search through their database for potential matches, and if the two people they select like the sound of each other, they organise for them to meet for a meal.
They have been very successful at matching people, having paired up 1,500 couples to date, and keep a strict 50:50 gender balance. They have members in 32 counties aged from 22 to 80, and say they would love to attract more men to the service, as they have to turn women away at times to balance the ratio. "There is a problem with men being proactive, particularly when they get older," says Rena. "Guys over 40 want Ms Right to knock on their door, which isn't going to happen. People can get embarrassed about looking for a partner, but it's a very brave thing to go out and get what you want."
On their own love life, Feargal says that he loves that Rena is so loving and generous. "She's all about giving," he says. "Rena is also very determined and has an incredible work ethic. She would come into work even if she had a broken leg. I'm a bit too talkative and I don't let things go, but when a problem arises, I want to talk it out and be done with it. I hate arguments that aren't resolved, but Rena can be a sulker."
Rena says that Feargal is very generous and very thoughtful. He's warm and kind, and never talks ill of people. "It's like being with an angel, so he acts as my conscience or moral compass," she teases. "But if Feargal has a view on something, nobody else's view could ever be right. He gives me advice all the time, but I will do my own thing and he can't live with that. Having said that, we are pretty much the same, as we enjoy eating and drinking, love being with our family and friends, and we live, work, go to the gym and holiday together. After three years, we're madly in love, even though we might kill each other at times, but it's still great."
Intro Matchmaking, 39 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. Tel 01-677 7000 or visit www.intro.ie