Tuesday 16 January 2018

For this pair, it was love at first swipe

Jewellery designer Mairead deBlaca fell for her fiance Brendan Doyle's funny personality on Tinder

Mairead deBlaca and Brendan Doyle met on Tinder. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mairead deBlaca and Brendan Doyle met on Tinder. Photo: Tony Gavin
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

Mairead deBlaca didn't have any great expectations when she signed up for the online dating app, Tinder, but she thought it might be a bit of fun. She got even more fun than she bargained for though, because the Cork woman is now engaged to Kilkenny man, Brendan Doyle, who is a real joker.

Both were single when they came across each other on the app two-and-a-half years ago, having previously tried online dating. They liked what they saw and swiped right, and met up after a couple of months for their first date on Valentine's Day, 2015. "You can meet men online who say really weird or awful stuff, but Brendan was really funny and we had this banter back and forth,'' Mairead recalls. "We went to Manifesto in Rathmines for our first date, and he was quirky and made me laugh."

Brendan admits that it was love at first sight for him. He was 40 at the time, and had set his search parameters to include women from 35-41. Mairead may have been a few years older but she somehow made the cut, which Brendan gets great fun from. "It was some sort of 'computer glitch', which is ironic as I work in IT," he jokes. "I was a bit nervous meeting up, but Mairead was smiley, happy, fun, confident and kind of cute. She has beautiful white teeth, so I liked her smile and sparkling eyes.''

Mairead (47) is from Mallow, Cork, and is the only child of Mary and the late Matt Blake. Her dad passed away at 89, although he was badly injured in the Buttevant rail disaster in 1980. He was the ticket checker on the train, and Mairead was very close to him and has a great relationship with her mother, Mary.

She always loved painting but wasn't accepted into art college, so Mairead did a degree in history and archaeology at UCC. She followed this with a master's degree in business and co-op development, and lived and worked in various companies in Washington for six years. Once back home, jobs with Ericsson, Vodafone and Microsoft followed, and she now works from home for an IT company based in the Czech Republic.

Brendan (44) grew up in Thomastown, Kilkenny, and is the second youngest of James and Mary's five children. His dad is a retired garda and his mum is a retired teacher. She taught Brendan for three years, so unfortunately for him, there was no pretending to be sick or not doing his homework. He went to UCD to study Irish and mathematical physics, but the course didn't suit him. He left and worked at the Badass Cafe for a couple of years while he decided the best way forward. He then did a degree at night in business and IT, followed by a master's degree in technology management at DIT. He got a job working in IT in banking for 16 years, and now works as an IT consultant in a consultancy firm in Dublin. He and Mairead moved in together a year ago, to her house in Rathmines, which has been great, although Brendan laughs that Mairead has a busy social life.

When out with friends, people often asked the couple when they were going to give them a day out, to which Mairead would jokingly reply that she was waiting on Brendan to pop the question.

A few weeks ago, they were going to a BBQ at Brendan's best friend's house, and he knew that the question was bound to arise amid the food, laughter and drink. So he went out and bought a "promise ring" and when the question did indeed arise, Mairead jokingly responded that she was expecting a question any day now. Whereupon Brendan got down on one knee, took out the ring and proposed. Mairead presumed it was a gag, and was shocked to discover he was for real.

"She put the ring on and then asked my friends who really owned it?" Brendan explains. "They were all clapping and Mairead was in shock when she realised it was actually serious. I got a promise ring because when I went to the jewellery shop, I hadn't a clue about rings. They asked about her, and when I told them she was a jewellery designer, they said not to be stupid and to let her design her own ring."

The delighted pair are currently looking at venues and deciding what type of wedding they want to have. They both have a great relationship with each other's families. ''Any time Mairead gives me an earful about something when her mother is around, Mary will turn to me and say, 'Brendan, in one ear and out the other'," laughs Brendan.

Mairead had done a bit of sculpture and then did a course in jewellery making at NCAD. She began making her own jewellery two years ago. The deBlaca range is going very well, and Mairead sells at craft fairs and Showcase and is stocked in the Kilkenny Shop in Cork and Carraig Donn in Limerick, Ennis and Westport. ''The gorgeous sterling silver jewellery is inspired by nature and life, and the latest collection is based around paintings of the night sky, the stars and the crescent moon. It is affordable luxury for everyday wear,'' says Mairead, who hopes to grow the deBlaca brand and eventually export it.

"Each piece of jewellery is seen as a piece of art," says Mairead, adding that Brendan is a great support to her. "While it's beautiful and delicate, it is non-symmetrical with unique contours and irregularities, just like nature."

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