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'When Ciara was seven, she wrote a note and put it in his suitcase. It said 'go away'!'

Sue Elliott knew she deserved a second chance at love when she and her husband split in the 1960s. She had four children at the time.

A few years later, along came Ciara's future dad, Brian.

Introducing her new partner to her children went better than Sue had expected.

"Brian was a great father figure for them," she remembers. "He was younger than their real dad. He liked to do things kids do, like reading comics. But they never called him 'Dad' because their real father was around. He was more of a nice uncle."

Sue and Brian never married and split a year or two after Ciara was born. Staying single for most of Ciara's childhood was not a choice. Her first marriage and her five children put suitors off. "Most men in those days wanted a clean slate," she says.

She remembers Ciara making her feelings known when someone new came on the scene.

"There was a guy I was having a little relationship with," says Sue. "Ciara was seven at the time. He came and stayed with us and Ciara wrote a note and put it in his suitcase which just said "go away", she laughs.

Sue remembers the way Ciara always claimed pride of place in her father's car.

"I was in love with Brian for about two years after we broke up," she says. "He used to visit Ciara, and inevitably he'd have his girlfriend with him.

"I was so jealous of her. But the poor girl would have to sit as far back as you could get in that small car so Ciara and the dog could have the seats of honour! That pleased me," she laughs.

Introducing childhood sweetheart Ray to her adult children 14 years ago also went smoothly. But Sue believes Ciara, who was in her 20s, was possibly a little wary at first.

"The first time they met, Ciara was distracted and rushing to catch the Dart, so maybe wasn't so warm," says Sue. "But from then on, she's been so kind."

Sue and Ray married last November, a happy conclusion to a love story that began over 50 years ago in America. They are preparing to celebrate Ray's 80th birthday soon.

"Both times I've introduced someone to my children, it's worked out well," says Sue.

"I've been lucky."

Irish Independent