Wednesday 21 February 2018

Calling all Romeos: Women reveal honest Valentine desires

Forget boring boxes of chocolates and forecourt flowers this February 14. Here seven prominent women tell Joanna Kiernan what they really want this Valentine's Day...

Sonya Lennon
Sonya Lennon
Marissa Carter
Celia Holman Lee
Ciara Conway
Cathy O'Connor
Maia Dunphy
Joanna Kiernan

Joanna Kiernan

Linda keating

Director of fundraising at the Marie Keating Foundation

Ideal gift: Dancing the night away

We have our annual Marie Keating Foundation Valentine's ball in Celbridge Manor next Saturday night, so for that to be a success would be the perfect Valentine's present for me this year and for the foundation. We have run this ball for the last five or six years and we have had people who have got engaged that night, anniversaries and we have had groups of people who come along for different reasons. The family of one lady who lost her battle to breast cancer took a table last year and it was just so lovely. Valentine's Day is not always about a couple having a romantic day, it is also about love in general and letting people in your life know how important they are to you.

Sheana Keane

TV presenter

Ideal gift: Horseback riding

In my dream date for Valentine's Day, we will spend a crisp spring day galloping across fields on horseback under blue skies, the wind in our hair, like Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy. We will race each other with gay abandon, laughing uproariously, flirting outrageously, feeling wholly vivid, free, alive and in love. The fact that I'm not the best horsewoman, not to mention quite afraid of horses, means it will realistically be a less attractive trot or canter trying to catch up with my husband, but still, I'd adore it and would push myself because galloping across a field with freedom and no fear with the man I love is a lifelong dream of mine.

Vivienne Connolly


Ideal gift: A day with my kids

I like Valentine's, because I'm a hopeless romantic, and it gives you the opportunity to show your love and appreciation to the one you love. I'm not really into all the hype around it though with guys having to pay double for a bouquet of flowers. I'd rather get them the day before or after. I had the perfect Valentine's Day last year, when purely by coincidence I was on a plane to Lanzarote with my two kids and suddenly I remembered what day it was. I remember thinking to myself, how great it was spending the day with them. For me, even though there is no such thing as "perfect" there is just life. It would be lovely to spend it with them again. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the idea of being whisked away somewhere beautifully exotic either. We can all dream right?

Sonya Lennon

Fashion designer

Ideal gift: A day off

I would love someone to force me to go on strike and be able to go on strike in the comfort and knowledge that everything that I would have done is going to be delegated and looked after in my absence. To me, the ultimate pampering and joy is just not having to do anything. I am very well looked after. The funny thing about Valentine's I suppose is that it is not about you as an individual, it's about you as a couple. Space and time are the ultimate luxuries.

Maia dunphy

TV presenter

Ideal gift: Doing away with Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is utter nonsense! If you say that as a single person, it results in the inevitable pitying head tilt, but as someone married to a very romantic man, I can stand up and say it. Last year I saw a bunch of roses calling themselves 'Grand Prix' with a €150 tag swinging merrily out of them. You'd have to be a Grand Prix to spend that on flowers that will still die as quickly as the cheap ones. Romance is flowers on a random rainy Monday, not bought because a thousand velvet-lined signs in the supermarket reminded you. This year I won't be with my husband on Valentine's Day. He's gigging in Leicester and I'll be in Dublin for a great friend's birthday. So we can always buy each other a plastic heart half-price on February 15.

Marissa carter

Creator of Cocoa Brown Tan

Ideal gift: A date with my husband

Ronan and I had our first kiss on the eve of Valentine's Day, so it's kind of an extra special day for us. We'll be celebrating 11 years together this Valentine's and I've no idea what plans might be in store for me, but Ro always manages to surprise me. We're both so busy this year that any sort of alone time will delight me. Between work and the amount of travelling I've been doing, our gorgeous little three-year-old and Ronan studying for a master's, time alone is rare. So, I guess what I'd really like this year for Valentine's Day is a full day and night of my husband's ­undivided attention. Although, I'm also 32 weeks pregnant so I'll probably sleep for half of it!

Ciara Conway

TD for Waterford

Ideal gift: A briquette holder

I love things that will make my house more organised. Because we are so busy I love things that will make life that little bit easier. I wanted a briquette holder for Christmas, but I think my husband felt bad for me and bought me a lovely vintage record player instead. What I really want is this holder for the briquettes though because when you are lighting the fire and you break the little green string around them, they fall all over the place. My nanny always had one in her house, so I have always wanted one. Anything practical or storage-related, I love. If I woke up on Valentine's morning and there was a bookcase from Ikea that I could organise all of our stuff into, that would be great. Or those smart storage things for under your bed.

Cathy Kelly


Ideal gift: Some me time

Even though everyone calls me the Queen of Romance, I'm not romantic: I'm actually murderously practical and Valentine's Day does not send me into spasms! I know, you're shocked! I do love roses, love all flowers, but my practical nature means that I hate the idea of my husband buying expensive roses instead of white tulips - that are just as beautiful.

I think a day when we celebrate love is wonderful but there are so many forms of love - if you're alone, Valentine's Day is horrific. So how about a 'Love My Best Friend' or 'Love My Mum 'cos you're always there' or even 'Love My Dog for the cuddles' day? and as for me… as a busy, working mother with a book to finish, I'd like a day off, with all my emails automatically answered, the freezer full of dinners and maybe a hot-stone massage to get rid of my RSI.

Cathy O'Connor


Ideal gift: Love (and shoes!)

What do I want for St Valentine's Day? My first inclination is to scan the mental checklist of things I'd like to possess or - those strappy sandals, that must-have handbag, that indulgent facial… But on second thoughts, what would really make me happy is for everyone to feel loved. The love in your life doesn't necessarily have to be measured by the presence or indeed absence of romance. It could be that certain someone who spies you in the aisle at Spar, it could be some devoted relative, whoever it is, wherever it is - I hope that everyone feels loved. That would be my St Valentine's wish (and maybe the sandals!)

Catherine Fulvio

Chef and cookery tutor

Ideal gift: Having dinner cooked for me!

For me, Valentine's Day is all about experiences more so than chocolates and roses. It's really important that the four of us, myself and my husband and our two children, spend time together that day too. I'm working this year - teaching couples to cook at my cookery school in Ballyknocken House - but I will be making up for it on another day. My ideal day would be to go for a walk at Brittas Bay, then go to Kilmacurragh gardens in Glenealy and have a picnic; then we arrive home, I shall recline, and my husband and two children will prepare dinner for me. The kids love to plan what they will cook. It doesn't matter if I only end up with scrambled eggs on toast; it's the fact that there is such excitement about it. It's lovely.

Irish Independent

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