He spent thousands of euro on phone bills and traveled tousands of miles over the course of his 18-month courtship with his fiancée to be with her – which, among other things, helped Aidan Clifford and Ellen Spence earn the title “Ireland’s Most Romantic Couple.”
Clifford, originally from County Kerry, and Spence, from Lurgan, Northern Ireland, were announced as the winners of the competition last month, which was organized by the magazine Ireland’s Wedding Journal.
The (not-so) lucky couple should have gone on to win a €46,000 ($62,688) package for their special day, which included a wedding reception in a fancy hotel in County Kerry, a designer wedding dress and an exotic honeymoon in the Caribbean.
But the competition organizers have been left reeling after it emerged that Clifford has some decidedly un-romantic tendencies.
In their application for the competition, the couple explained how they met when on a skiing trip in Italy and how despite the long distances between them when they returned to Ireland, they remained lovers. Clifford got down on one knee and proposed to her at an ice rink.
But the couple neglected to mention that Clifford’s fondness for public displays of affection extend to himself as well as to his fiancée.
At a court in County Galway in July last year, Clifford, who had once whisked his lover off for a romantic weekend in New York, admitted to following women around in his car while “pleasuring himself.”
The court was told that his behavior stemmed from boyhood issues, and that he would drive to Galway from Ballyvaughan, in County Clare, where he lived, on his days off work. It also heard of how Clifford was under a lot of pressure at work, and that he was a workaholic.
It seems, however, as if Spence is standing by her man, who beat competition from couples all over Ireland to be crowned “Ireland’s Most Romantic Couple.”
But unfortunately for Clifford, his act of self-love has resulted in him and his fiancée being stripped of their title.
Publisher Wynn Penton said in a statement that the magazine was unaware of Clifford’s conviction, which was “entirely incompatible with the ethos of Ireland’s Wedding Journal.”
She said that the magazine had received a number of complaints from members of the public about Clifford.
“We would have liked to award the prize to another of the couples who entered, but with regret we have come to the decision that no prize will be awarded this year. The entire competition has been tainted and the publicity attached to it has also been very unpleasant.
“The episode has cast a long shadow over the competition and we have taken the decision that it is best that the entire matter should be closed and that it is in everyone's interest that it is concluded.”
The couple are hoping to get married in September.