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love bug Meet the Irish couples who found romance during lockdown

Lovelorn singles embrace 'iso-dating' and online chats to find true romance during Covid crisis

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Tara first saw Jeanderson on a workout video and then again on Tinder where they matched

Tara first saw Jeanderson on a workout video and then again on Tinder where they matched

Tara and Jeanderson have moved in together

Tara and Jeanderson have moved in together

Aoife and William had mutual friends and found they were perfect together

Aoife and William had mutual friends and found they were perfect together

Ciara and John’s romance blossomed during walks in lockdown

Ciara and John’s romance blossomed during walks in lockdown

Ciara and John on one of their lockdown walks

Ciara and John on one of their lockdown walks

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Tara first saw Jeanderson on a workout video and then again on Tinder where they matched

At a time when physical distancing has all but decimated the dating scene, Irish people are finding love online.

Singletons are now embracing the new world of iso-dating and investing their time in online dating, no longer hoping to just hook up but to lock down a partner for life.

New figures show how dating apps have never been busier since the country was first instructed to stay at home to help stop the spread of Covid-19 last March.

Ireland was even revealed as the third most active location for online dating in the world by Dating.com, which has seen an 84 per cent upswing since the beginning of the pandemic, with only the US and India e-flirting more.

In a case of 'appily ever after', emergency room nurse Tara Dunphy found love when she swiped right on Tinder. The 26-year-old from Navan first matched with her boyfriend, MMA fighter, Jeanderson Castro, last April. Just three months later the happy couple were living together.

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Tara and Jeanderson have moved in together

Tara and Jeanderson have moved in together

Tara and Jeanderson have moved in together

"I was working out with my sister and following an online kettlebell class that her gym had posted when they uploaded another video of a personal trainer doing Brazilian martial arts and I just said, 'Jesus, he's got a fierce amount of energy.'

"I was so bored and went on Tinder that night and I came across him. I swiped for the craic and two minutes later he messaged me.

"I did the online kettlebell class the next morning with my sister and he was in the background. I couldn't stop laughing."

Conscious of Level 5 restrictions and adhering to guidelines, the couple first embarked on an online relationship.

"We were messaging for weeks before we decided to meet up. We were talking back and forth constantly and agreed after not being in contact with anyone for weeks that we would meet. We did a socially distanced walk and we spoke and laughed the whole way; it was about 8kms. After that it was picnics, barbecues and a few hikes until lockdown eased and then we were official."

Of course, their union wasn't without its difficulties.

"My mother was naturally nervous about the virus and said, 'if you go out and meet somebody you aren't coming back to this house.'

"I would come home and she would be spraying the door handles - my mam would be very safety conscious and bring in the shopping and sanitise everything in the bag."

The couple made a further leap and moved in together just three months later.

"He moved to Navan because it was closer to his job. I helped him pack and get him set up and he basically hasn't let me leave since, that was July.

"I was previously working as a nurse in the UK so it was July when I found work again as a nurse, the only time we are not together now is when I have a night shift. We are together nine months and I've never been happier. I don't know where I would be without him."

The fledgling relationship has been a welcome distraction for the frontline worker who has a roster of patients she cares for in Beaumont hospital.

"Being in PPE gear is a challenge, you are sweating and when you have your visor it puts pressure on your forehead - you just constantly have a headache, it's also really difficult to communicate with the elderly.

"It's so hard for the older generation coming into hospital as it is, they are so frightened but a lot of the time I am the only contact some of these people have had in weeks. Jeanderson is really a great source of support on those tough days, it's like we have always been together."

Drone deliveries, hazmat suit meet-ups and socially-distanced rooftop dinners may be how some ultra-modern love stories are playing out, but for Ciara Glennon (31) it was a walk along the canal that made her fall hook, line and sinker for her boyfriend of six months.

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Ciara and John’s romance blossomed during walks in lockdown

Ciara and John’s romance blossomed during walks in lockdown

Ciara and John’s romance blossomed during walks in lockdown

The Westmeath woman said it took the coronavirus outbreak to help her slow down and discover everything she was looking for in her boyfriend, John Marron (32).

"We messaged for a while in March during the heavy lockdown and lost contact for a while but we rematched again in May when he moved home to Tullamore. I decided to friend-zone him because I thought he was too nice for me but to this day he says he was not giving up on me.

"He continued to Snapchat me throughout and when the lockdown started to ease restrictions we decided to meet in person for a socially- distanced walk along the canal. It took a couple of walks and a lot of persuasion on his part but I finally saw sense. I had always picked the bad lads and it was nice to give the nice guy a chance for a change."

Admitting that the pandemic allowed the pharmacy technician to reconsider her priorities, Ciara said: "I was known as the party girl but deep down at heart I wanted to find that one person as all my friends were settled and I was still the 31-year-old eejit out every weekend falling home.

"Since Covid hit I've quietened down so much and realised a lot about myself. I finally met someone through a more natural environment with simple dates like walks and coffee trips instead of my usual 3am nights out.

"I enjoyed country music and was gone big into jiving before the lockdown, mostly to meet new friends to go out with. I was up and down the country at festivals the whole time and got into a bad habit of going to my local pub for something to do. John is the complete opposite, he's quiet and more reserved. It made me slow down and rethink what's really important in life."

Now happily planning their future together, Ciara said: "I never thought I'd meet someone who adores me and looks out for me the way I always hoped and dreamed somebody would. It has been the worst year in some ways possible but a massive change and a great year for me in many ways. He actually says every day 'thank God for the lockdown'."

For Aoife Martin (26) and engineer William Kehoe (32) it was a grounded flight that helped write their love story.

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Aoife and William had mutual friends and found they were perfect together

Aoife and William had mutual friends and found they were perfect together

Aoife and William had mutual friends and found they were perfect together

"I got a friend request at the start of July on Facebook and it turned out one of our mutual friends had told him to get in touch with me," says Aoife.

"He was funny from the start and I thought he was a bit of craic and then we started texting continuously.

"We did walks on the beach for the first six weeks because it was in our 5km. What I found was that we were able to be ourselves, the pub scene was gone so it was really stripped back and we really got to know each other and it was so relaxed. It was just us.

"If you go for a drink in the local everyone knows your business and there was none of that so there was no pressure."

Speaking of the serendipitous circumstances that brought them together, the teacher said: "I know for sure that we definitely wouldn't have met without the pandemic.

"He was living in America and came home for Christmas and had a flight booked to go back in March but he couldn't get back. Recently he got a call from his boss asking him to come back out but he told him 'I love my life now'."

In a new age of pandemic dating, where sliding into someone's DMs is not alone tolerated but actively encouraged, Aoife is thrilled her other half made the first move.

"We both have mutual friends and we have never come across each other and we only live 15 minutes down the road from each other - it's crazy to think we would still be strangers if he hadn't sent that Facebook message.

"I went to see a medium and she told me I was going to meet someone, everything that she said is all in William, even to the clothes he wears, the music he listens to and she even gave me his second name.

"I know it is only six months in but he's not just my boyfriend, he is like a best friend."


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