It's time for Hallmark to make a fortune again.  It’s Valentine’s season and we’re all slaves to it.
It’s a time for expressing your love whether it’s towards a lover, a parent or a child. We all love someone, right?

I remember being a young girl and keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that Mr. Postman would come by my house on Valentine’s Day with a red envelope, maybe two if I was very lucky. Some years he did, others he didn’t.

There were many years of elation, guessing who was behind the signature “your secret admirer,” and other years there were tears as to why no one liked me.  I can laugh now when I look back.

Valentine’s Day in Ireland was, and still is pretty much, all about your boyfriend, fiancée, partner or husband. In New York it’s a lot more generic (another Hallmark idea, of course). There are Valentine cards for children, grandparents, nannies and even dogs.

So this year I sat in our Tipperary kitchen with our two kids (Colum, 3, and Sadie, nearly 2) to make cards for anyone who is important in their lives. Grannies, cousins, best friends, daddy, and they are both allowed to send one card to those they have a crush on.

Colum chose our friend’s daughter Lauren. He becomes seriously shy when she is around.  It’s adorable. Sadie chose her daddy and another little friend of hers, Tristian.

I had fun explaining that Friday is all about showing we care and displaying our love for one another.
Since launching my own wedding magazine in Limerick late last year I’ve been saturated in all things love and I enjoy it immensely. I’ve even considered becoming a matchmaker myself here because I have a lot of single friends.

For the purpose of this article I thought it would be a nice idea to see how people first met their loved one.  If I was to do a survey I’d imagine a high percentage of us (me included) met our other half in a bar or nightclub, others in college, and some are even childhood sweethearts, but we all love a different story don’t we?

So I asked my friends, my colleagues and brides-to-be how they met the person they are, or plan to spend the rest of their lives, with.

LISA O’Sullivan met her fiancé at a yoga retreat in Co. Cork. Lisa had come out of a nine-year engagement and wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in Mayo, so she booked a week long summer yoga retreat. Johan Briske, a South African native, had been in Ireland a year and also booked the retreat. After a week of long conversations, yoga poses and lots of cups of herbal tea the pair swapped contact details and are due to be married in December.

IN October 2009 after a long bus ride from Kerry to Limerick, Sarah Ryan’s luggage went missing. She sighed as you would.

Enter David Cunneen, who works for Bus Eireann.  It had been a long working week for David.

“It was about 9 p.m. on a Sunday night and I got a knock on the office door. This was the end of my working week so I was tired and wanted to go home. When I opened the door there was a slightly embarrassed young lady standing there. I think her first word to me was ‘sorry’ as she explained that she had left her suitcase on the bus,” remembers David as if it was yesterday.

Being the honorable gentleman that he is and doing the job he was paid to do David, a Limerick man, was on the phone immediately to the bus driver. He arranged for Sarah’s luggage to be left at the door.

“I then asked the young lady if she trusted me enough to get into the car with me and she did, and very soon after Sarah was reunited with the suitcase,” he said.

When Sarah was back in possession of her luggage, David wasn’t about to let her out of his sight.  They spent the next two hours chatting. They swapped numbers and as David says, “It was the start of what has been and what continues to be the most amazing journey of our lives.”

The couple married a few years later and still enjoy the story of how they met.

JAMES Lenihan
found the love of his life at his friend’s wedding.  James has been abroad (Australia) for three years and came home to Kerry for two weeks to visit family.

While home he ran into an old school friend who invited him to the afters of his wedding. Any excuse for a night out.

James gladly accepted the invite. He wasn’t there 10 minutes, he admits, and he saw Laura across the room. She was the younger sister of his school friend, three years younger, but he never remembers her being around before.

He was instantly smitten, and before the end of the night he scored two slow dances with her and a few sneaky kisses. “She is my soul mate, I mean it. We are destined to be together,” he admitted.

James went back to Australia hoping Laura, a schoolteacher, would follow. She didn’t.

He was lost without her, so he packed in his engineering job in Australia and moved back home to Listowel to be with the love of his life. James and Laura are now planning a small intimate wedding in Galway for 2015 with the help of their two-year-old daughter Casey.

ONE bad relationship after another left Claire Daly feeling lost. She had met many guys in the local. She subsequently formed relationships with these men, and although it lasted a few months it never went further than that and she was sick of it.

After a six month spell of being single Claire was ready to get back out into the dating world but decided to try Internet dating. It worked, after the second date.

“I was extremely apprehensive as you can imagine about meeting someone online, but to tell you the truth I was getting lonely and sick and tired of meeting someone when we were drunk,” shared Claire.

After spending weeks communicating via emails and texts and eventually phone calls, Claire agreed to go out with two guys the same week.

“The first guy was actually really nice but a little too nerdy for me. He read poetry to me over coffee and that sort of freaked me out but he was nice. I agreed to see him again, don’t ask me why,” she recalls.
However, Claire had a date with Charlie three days later and first impressions did it all.

“He was exactly what it said on the tin – same height as myself, going bald, very young face, just handsome all round but it was his personality that drew me right in.”

The pair shared a goodnight kiss after dinner, and not being able to stay away from each other they met again the following night and nearly every night since.

Claire and Charlie have now been together 18 months and hope never to be apart from each other.

CAIT and Liam are childhood sweethearts. They met on the playground when they were seven. Their parents first became friends and over the years they grew close.

They dated other people while in school, but when Liam asked Cait to his graduation ball in secondary school that was the beginning of a 17-year relationship.

They broke up twice, once for a year when they were 22 and once again for a week when they were 24.
“We went through our ups and downs. We had to grow together and that at times was challenging, but we survived the bumps and we are now married five years and if I can be honest here I’m going to say it’s been the best five years ever,” shares Cait.

“Maybe it’s because when we finally took our vows. We were committed to each other, living together and now we have our first child on the way so you have to work through the hard stuff, and we don’t have blinkers on. We know there will be more challenging stuff along the way but we are in it for the long haul and we love each other very much so long may it last.”

Cait is due her first baby on St. Patrick’s Day.

So there you have it. We never do know when or where we will meet the right person, and that’s kind of exciting. Happy Valentine’s Day America!