Country music star Patrick Feeney has revealed that he’s set to marry after a whirlwind romance in lockdown.
he popular entertainer, who is also a member of The Three Amigos with Jimmy Buckley and Robert Mizzell, sprung a surprise proposal last Saturday on Sligo woman Claire Hegarty.
The happy pair, who are now planning a 2022 wedding, fell in love after hooking up through the Tinder dating app last year when the country first went into lockdown.
Patrick (38) and Claire (36) then moved in together a few months after first meeting, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
“If it wasn’t for the Covid lockdown I wouldn’t have gone on Tinder, so something really positive has come out of this pandemic for me,” Patrick tells the Sunday World.
“I always thought that a dating app wasn’t for me, but with no gigs to play I was at a loose end and at home on my own. Tinder was something to do, the chance to interact with somebody else. It’s the best decision I ever made.”
Patrick said he recognised Claire on Tinder because she works in Wehrly Bros, a well known jewellers shop in Sligo town that he’d often visited.
However, the power-house singer admits their online relationship had a shaky start.
“We were chatting back and forth for a couple of weeks at a time when we couldn’t meet,” Patrick tells me.
“Then when the lockdown was eventually lifted last summer I contacted her to see if she’d like to go for a coffee…and she turned me down!
“She said she was anxious because she was just back at work and worried about people she was meeting and the virus. I was insulted then and I didn’t reply for a couple of weeks.
“Several weeks passed and it was now towards the end of summer. I was going through my phone again and I said, ‘I must message Claire to see how she is.’
“I suggested again if she would like to meet outdoors at a distance, so this time she said she would.
“Our first date was at a coffee cart outside Sligo town, at a social distance. Then we went for a walk along the Garavogue River.
“We got on well and after that we were chatting some more, and we’d have a coffee date once a week because Claire was working. That went on for a few weeks. It was all coffee dates. It was the end of July into August and the weather was good.
“Then we had a couple of proper dates and it went from there. It was a bit of a whirlwind then. We started seeing each other and things were going great and then there was another lockdown.
“I live in a place called Gurteen, which is about 25 kilometres from Sligo town, and with the restrictions then I wasn’t going to be able to see her, so I asked her to move in with me.
“I said ‘it’s do or die’, because at that stage we didn’t know how long the second lockdown was going to last. After thinking about it for a couple of weeks she moved in with me in Gurteen. That was five or six months ago and we never looked back.
“It was the best thing that we ever did because we got to know each other really well. Then on December 31 the jewellers closed in the new restrictions, so she’s been in Gurteen full-time. We’ve been in each other’s pockets since then and it’s been brilliant.
“It was definitely a ‘do or die’ because I know plenty of people that the lockdown put a strain on their relationship because they’re seeing each other every day. For us, in all honesty, I have to say it was quite the opposite. It was brilliant.
“Claire is just a wonderful person to be with and to live with. I knew after living with her for a month that ‘this is something different, there’s something special here.’
“It’s rare for me wanting to be at home, and she was the reason why I wanted to be there. We are very, very happy with each other. We just get on so well. She’s funny and witty and we have good fun together. She’s a great person to be around.”
Patrick reveals that Claire knew very little about him before they met because she wasn’t a country music fan.
“She knew of me and what I did, but wouldn’t have known one song that I ever recorded,” he says. “She wasn’t a country fan and didn’t go to any of the dances or anything like that. She has only seen the home side of Patrick Feeney and has yet to see the performer side. I’d rather it happened this way than the other way around.”
Last Saturday, as he got set to propose to Claire, Patrick suggested that the couple should get dressed up and have a date night.
“I knew around Christmas time that I was going to propose, but I didn’t want to do it then,” he says. “I thought Easter would be as nice a time as any. Claire had reminded me that she likes Easter eggs, so I got her a hamper of chocolates and cosmetics that she likes.
“I then got in touch with her boss, Richard Wehrly, and told him what I was doing. With Claire working in the jewellery industry she knows exactly what she wants, so I thought I’d leave it to herself to choose a ring. Richard organised a promise ring for me, which I then hid in the hamper.
“We had a Chinese takeaway that night and then I gave her the gift.
“When she found the ring in the hamper I went down on one knee and asked her to marry me.
“She got a big, big shock. She definitely wasn’t expecting it, but she said ‘yes’ straight away.
“It never felt as right. I was never as certain about something in all my life in asking her. I had no doubt whatsoever, and neither had she, thank God.”
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