Three Irish couples with 150 years of marriage share their wisdom on Valentine's Day

Respect, communication and humour all help to keep the flame alive

Dublin couple Bernie and Robert Coventry will be 50 years married this August and have fostered 50 kids

Bernie and Robert on their wedding day

Christy (74) and Patsy Buckley (68) are toasting 40 years of marriage

Christy and Patsy on their wedding day

Noreen (82) and Brendan Hennessy (81), from Cork, will be married 60 years later this month.

Noreen and Brendan on their wedding day

Denise Smith and Deirdre ReynoldsSunday World

Dubliners Bernie and Robert Coventry, both 72, celebrate 50 years of marriage this August. The proud parents-of-seven say laughter and patience are at the heart of their enduring love story.

Bernie and Robert Coventry – 50 years married

“It’s absolutely mind-boggling to think we are nearly 50 years married.

"I don’t know where the years have gone,” Bernie tells Magazine+. “Our eldest daughter will be 25 years married in September so it’s a double celebration for the family.

“We were at my now sister-in-law’s 21st birthday party when we first met. But here’s the funny part — he actually came over to ask my friend up to dance, but then he tripped and asked me up instead. We just started dancing together.

“He asked could he see me the next night, but he’d had a few drinks so he couldn’t remember what I looked like!”

Bernie and Robert on their wedding day

“We met in Fleet Street the next night,” Robert picks up the story. “The only thing I could remember about her was her coat.”

“My dad dropped me in and I could see him in the distance, and then his face changing as much as to say, ‘Oh Jaysus, this must be her!’” laughs Bernie.

“We met in the October and spent the next couple of months together, seeing each other every night. When I turned 21 the next April, he asked my dad that night could he marry me.”

After just a ten-month courtship, the smitten couple were engaged. “We got married in 1973 in St Bernadette’s Church in Crumlin, we were both 23,” shares Robert.

“After the first night I knew straight away, she was always herself, and we hit it off immediately.”

Meanwhile, Bernie reveals how she fell for her his humour: “His corny jokes did it for me and even today, he tells dad jokes.

“He always makes me laugh. He was in the army for years, and when the kids were little he used to get free haircuts. He got a haircut one day but the barber played a trick on him and shaved off half his moustache, so we had to shave off the other half.

“I laughed for a week. I told him it looked like he had no top lip.”

Of course it hasn’t always been a bed of roses, the pair agree.“It wasn’t always happy-go-lucky — we had our ups and downs. We have our own hobbies, and then do things together too, but we laugh a lot with each other,” continues Robert.

His wife adds: “There’s also a huge amount of patience, especially when the kids were young. We fostered 50 kids over 30 years and we had three under three at one point.”

Although they don’t pay much heed to Valentine’s Day, the romantic pair have found their own way to show how much they still care after five decades.

“He always buys me a card, and we have a way of signing them; we always write, ‘From me to you’,” explains Bernie of their life-long tradition.

“Last year Robert came in one day and said, ‘I’ve something on my arm, can you put cream on it?’ He had taken our saying, ‘From me to you’, and had it tattooed on his arm.

“Our son is a tattoo artist and I got the courage to get one when I was 60. It’s a bouquet of flowers that represent the birth flowers for when my children and grandchildren were born. It’s so lovely that we have such meaningful tattoos.”

The couple, who share 9 grandchildren, have some sage advice for any young lovers this February 14. “Do everything your wife tells you to do!” quips Robert.

“Communication is key,” adds Bernie. “If you have an argument, don’t leave it fester and never go to bed on an argument. And if they have a few drinks, stick them in the shed!”

Christy (74) and Patsy Buckley (68) are toasting 40 years of marriage

Christy and Patsy Buckley – 40 years married

DUBLIN couple Christy (74) and Patsy Buckley (68) are toasting 40 years of marriage today. Dad-of-three Christy says the decades have gone by in a heartbeat. “I was working for Dublin City Council as a carpenter when I was sent to Ballymun swimming pool for two weeks to do some maintenance. While I was there, I met this lovely lifeguard and we got chatting straight away. I was going on my holidays, so I decided to send her a postcard and when I got back, I asked her out and she said yes.

"We went to a cabaret spot and, needless to say, we never looked back.”

"Six months later, I asked Patsy to marry me — I just knew. Her sense of humour and personality really had me hooked.

Christy and Patsy on their wedding day

“Being a lifeguard, she saved my life, metaphorically speaking. We were always laughing together.

"It’s hard to imagine our wedding day was all those years ago — it really flew by in the blink of an eye, and that’s as true as God.

"We are down-to-earth people and we don’t go on with nonsense. We just get on with it.

"We always found it easy to talk everything through.

“It can’t be like it is in the movies —you will go through some hard times, but that’s all part of it.

"Every day should be like Valentine’s Day. I am thoughtful in the small things and always take her feelings into consideration.

"We don’t go in for the grand gestures.”

Noreen (82) and Brendan Hennessy (81), from Cork, will be married 60 years later this month.

Noreen and Brendan Hennessy – 60 years married

NOREEN (82) and Brendan Hennessy (81), from Cork, will be married an incredible 60 years later this month.

Despite hard times, the gran-of-five says their love is as strong now as it was on their big day.

“We met on the 29 October in 1959 at a dance in St Mary’s Hall in Rossmore. I was to meet someone else there, but he didn’t turn up.

"So I saw this nice-looking lad sitting up on the stage, and when it came to ladies’ choice, I went over and asked him for a dance.

"He asked me for the next dance, and that was it really. I knew straight away — and he did too. He was 17 and I was 18.

"Brendan used to drive a lorry, and would be away a lot, so I used to only see him on Sunday nights.

"One night, after we were going out for about two years, he turned up drunk to collect me — so I finished it.

"I just said, ‘You’re not going to collect me again if you’re going to be drunk’. I didn’t see him for two months. It broke my heart.

Noreen and Brendan on their wedding day

"Then one night, at another dance, he gave me a dance and told me he was going to England the following week. He said, ‘I’ve bought you a ticket — we leave on Wednesday’.

“Both my parents were dead at that stage, and one of my brothers had gone to New Zealand, so I had no hesitation about going. I was ready.

“We got married in England in 1963. There was six feet of snow the night before the wedding, and the lads from Brendan’s digs had to come round with shovels so the car could drive in.

"Then, when I was coming down the stairs, I had a big hoop skirt and my underskirt fell down, and my bridesmaid had to fix it.

" I remember it all! Brendan’s a joker; he’s always happy. He was never a worrier, ‘twas I was the worrier about everything. He’d always say, ‘Listen, everything will be alright’.

"We came back to Ireland in 1967 to raise our family.

"We didn’t have a very easy time. Brendan was self-employed, so it was very hard to get money in from people, but we managed.

"We brought up four lovely children, and not one of them has given us any problems.

"They all live around and are very good to us now. We never did anything for Valentine’s Day — we didn’t have to. We had a wonderful time, but we had very tough times as well.

"I’ll never forget when my youngest, Paula, was born. I had just come home from hospital and we were standing in the kitchen with two pennies left.

" I’ll never forget bawling my eyes out, and Brendan put his arms around me and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll manage’.

"And we did. He’s still very good like that.

"We’re 60 years married on February 23. I can’t believe it myself. Brendan and myself are going to the Lake Hotel in Killarney for a few days in March to celebrate, and the kids want to throw us a party.

"We have our ups and downs but we love each other as much today as we did then.”

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