Inside the proposals of couples who met, fell in love and lived happily ever after

Inside the proposals of couples who met, fell in love and lived happily ever after

As we look forward to Valentine’s Day, we’re celebrating romance of the fairytale kind.

The sort where couples meet, fall in love and live happily ever after.

For a glimpse into their loved-up lives, we asked one-half of four of our favourite couples to share the story of how they asked their beloved to become their betrothed.

Fairytale of Copenhagen

Journalist and writer, Victoria Mary Clarke, on her love for The Pogues lead singer and songwriter, Shane McGowan.

Shane McGowan and Victoria Mary Clarke pictured on The Late Late Show Shane MacGowan and Fairytale of New York special. Picture Andres Poveda.
Shane McGowan and Victoria Mary Clarke pictured on The Late Late Show Shane MacGowan and Fairytale of New York special. Picture Andres Poveda.

When I first met Shane, I didn’t actually like him, but I was very intrigued by him and the intensity of my attraction grew to a point where I knew we had to be together.

It was as if I’d never felt at home before I met him.

I felt my whole world only fell into place and made sense when he told me he felt the same way about me. I was 20 and I’d known him for four years.

Finding your soulmate doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to have an easy time. Shane and I adore and admire each other and love to see each other happy. But we also continually challenge each other to expand and evolve beyond our comfort zones. We’ve changed each other, hopefully in positive ways, so we can be more of who we are really meant to be. That can be excruciating as well as blissful.

The getting engaged part was not a big deal for us. There was no romantic gesture, going down on one knee, or even a ring.

We’re both quite cautious and reserved. We’re both resistant to change, so we’d been together for about 23 years before we agreed to marry. I think it was a casual conversation over breakfast, after Kate Moss had told Shane he should buy me an engagement ring. Possibly, there was a bit of peer pressure.

But it took us another seven years to get married.

It was supposed to be a quick ceremony in Copenhagen’s City Hall. But we’re very grateful to our amazing friends who came along and forced us to have a fairytale wedding with a funfair and a pirate ship. Johnny Depp was the sweetest wedding singer you could possibly imagine, so it did turn out to be pretty romantic.

Christmas cracker

Singer Daniel O’Donnell on his love for wife, Majella

Daniel O’Donnell and his wife Majella at home in Dublin. The couple will be married 18 years this November.
Daniel O’Donnell and his wife Majella at home in Dublin. The couple will be married 18 years this November.

Majella wasn’t expecting a marriage proposal on the day I asked her. There was an element of surprise and romance. It was a Christmas day and I was sitting on the edge of the bed just before I asked her.

Shortly before I’d suggested she telephone her mother, Marion. When she picked up the phone in the kitchen I said: “Maybe call from the bedroom. It’ll be quieter there.” So she went to call her mother and while they were talking I came in, sat on the edge of the bed, took the phone and said to her mother: “If you can excuse me now, there’s some business I must attend to with your daughter.” Then I got down on one knee and proposed to Majella. Her mother was in the middle of it all. She was part of it.

I knew Marion and Majella’s father, Tom, would be delighted at the engagement. I knew both for many years before I ever met Majella. Getting married is a commitment that changes things. It was important for us but it’s not what everyone wants. What’s right for some can be wrong for others.

Majella and I are very good together. We’re apart a lot, but we’re never together too much. We are two individuals with distinct and separate lives. But when we’re together, we’re very united. We’ll be married 18 years in November.

Ring of Kerry

Television presenter Dáithí Ó Sé, on his love for Rita Talty.

Daithí Ó Sé with his wife Rita Talty. Photo: Kate Nolan Phptography/www.katenolanphotography.com.
Daithí Ó Sé with his wife Rita Talty. Photo: Kate Nolan Phptography/www.katenolanphotography.com.

I’d been planning on proposing to Rita for a while before I asked the question. I thought about asking her in Dún Mór, as America’s the next parish and the place of Rita’s birth.

But I decided to ask her in America, as I knew her family would want to be close by when they heard.

When we took a trip there two months later, I took her by surprise. I knew what ring size to get as I’d stolen one of her rings, got it measured then left it back by the sink. When she went looking for it I ‘found’ it for her.

I’d often told Rita that when I asked her to marry me, I’d ask her in Irish. I told her that depending on whether she wanted to say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ her answer would be ‘pósfaidh’ or ‘ní phósfaidh.’ I gave her the options.

Out of respect, I’d asked her father for her hand before I proposed. We were in Weehawken in New Jersey when I asked her. It was there that I first told her I loved her.

She wasn’t expecting the proposal when it came. I got down on one knee at the side of the Hudson River. My knee was in a puddle of water.

I was nervous and very happy when it was done. I had to fish the ring out of my pocket while down on one knee. I’d taken it out of its box so she wouldn’t cop I was carrying a ring-sized box.

Tickets for Dáithí’s new live stage show, Rhyme with Reason are on sale now at www.ticketweb.ie/

Secret ceremony

Karl Broderick on his love for Ireland AM’s Alan Hughes, with whom he produces the Cheerios Panto.

Alan Hughes and husband Karl Broderick, who have been together for 22 years.
Alan Hughes and husband Karl Broderick, who have been together for 22 years.

Alan proposing to me on Ireland AM came as a shock. I imagine he knew I’d say ‘yes’ and that the entire TV team was in on it. Though that proposal led to our marriage, I proposed a few years earlier.

That led to us having a civil ceremony; the only legal alternative available to us then.

I’m immensely proud of Alan. Long before it was ‘cool’ he talked on TV about having a boyfriend who eventually became his husband.

Our marriage ceremony was carried out in secret, with Alan’s brother Kevin and my sister Ann, the only invitees. As Alan doesn’t wear jewellery, I thought he’d never wear a ring. But he wears his proudly.

Our rings aren’t matching. In fact, if we get ready separately for a night out or a gig, and we find we’ve dressed at all similarly, we change. I don’t do matchy-matchy.

The memory of the Beckhams’ in black leather jump-suits still haunts me. We argue quite a bit.

I’m untidy and take ages to get ready. Back in the 1990s, when Alan almost got the TV quiz show Talk About, I panicked.

I didn’t want to be the boyfriend of a celebrity, so I hoped he wouldn’t get the job. When he didn’t, I felt awful and wished it would come good.

Three weeks later, he was hired for that job. By then I was okay with it. But maybe if he’d got it the first time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.

I’m beginning to believe in destiny more and more, and in many of the cliches that play in my head, in my mother’s voice. That Alan is amazing in The Cheerios Panto and that I was given a talent for writing panto — that freaks me out a bit and feels a bit like fate.

We’ve been together twenty-two years. Alan always tries to keep life bouyant and up. From day one, we’ve signed cards to each other CCC, meaning cozily and creatively compatible. I guess that sums us up


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