‘First Dates taught me love comes in all sizes and shapes’, waitress Alice says
Reality TV matchmaker, style maven and now environmentalist, First Dates Ireland waitress Alice Marr tells Denise Smith all about the recent professional — and geographical — changes in her life
The last time I spoke with the RTÉ star I was huddled in my car as a mouse took ownership of my kitchen, today Alice is also having rodent issues of her own.
“We just moved into a new house last October and I don’t know whether it is a mouse or a rat but there is something in the attic above our room.
"We put all sort of traps down and we can’t catch it. I hope you got your issue sorted” laughs the much-loved waitress who has stolen the hearts of viewers across Ireland thanks to her unwavering ability to put nervous singletons at ease.
“It just comes and goes, we have tried luring them in with chocolates and dates and nut butters, we keep saying we need to get it sorted because obviously they can multiply but it just seems to be one big rodent.”
Having relocated to the west of Ireland during lockdown, the loved-up actress is toying with the idea of putting down permanent roots.
“Right now, we are in a rental, I have bought so many plants it is looking like the Botanic Gardens.
“We are in Liscannor in Clare, I moved in lockdown and we are loving it here.
“I have gotten really into surfing during the last two years even during the winter and that has become such a part of my lifestyle. When you start you are guaranteed to be terrible. My dad surfs and he always says, ‘it’s like slipping on a banana over and over again,’ so you have to have no shame. It took six months to just get to a point where I could stay on for more than five seconds.
“At the moment I am not in a rush to leave Clare, but at the same time, we’ll see.
“I go up to Dublin for jobs and I’m like I miss it, but then I miss Clare — but you can’t have it all.”
Or can you? With the RTÉ juggernaut now heading into its eight series, Alice has become a firm fixture of the cult dating show, and she still hasn’t tired of working in Dublin’s most romantic restaurant.
“It has been a blur of six years because we did the first two series in one year.
“It is completely mad that it is still here, but then it is such a testament to the show that it is still going. I am really proud to be part of something that has stayed so engaging and relevant to viewers after this long.
“The only difference this year is that Pete got engaged, all of our lives are changing — but it feels like a time warp when we are together.
“I don’t watch reality television for the most part, but you wouldn’t stay with it if it wasn’t special. If I was involved in something that was sensationalising or nearly taking advantage of people to create engaging television not that all reality TV does that, then I wouldn’t do it. First Dates is really kind and people come on and they are themselves and it is really genuine TV.”
So who are some of the participants that Alice has fallen head over heels for?
“Laine, he came back with his fiancé. He was on the show twice and the dates didn’t work out, but his partner saw him on First Dates and contacted him through social media. They came in and we had a bottle of champagne and celebrated their engagement.
“Carla and Shez are our first wedding. I remember Carla sitting at the bar looking very beautiful and Shez walked in and he was covered in tattoos and you could see her look at him like ‘oh my God,’ but they fell completely in love.
“We have been invited to the wedding, it’s so lovely to have been part of their story.”
The 27-year-old adds that some of her greatest lessons in love have come from the series.
“ First Dates has shown me that love can come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes I see people and from the outside looking in I don’t know whether there will be a spark and then there is because they are both open-minded.
“Working on a show like this it definitely makes you question love and relationships, and made me question some of the relationships I have been in. When I’ve been filming and listening to people talk, I would think, oh do I want more of that in my relationship? Or is that a no, no for me too?
“It really makes you question relationship and love when people are talking about what they are looking for and how they connect in different ways. It has been an interesting pivotal thing.”
Naturally, it’s not the most ideal working environment if you’re recovering from a broken heart.
“There was one year where I was just in the process of going through a break-up as I was filming and it was really tough. I just thought to myself: ‘I want to be dating and I want to be having a lovely dinner and drinks and being excited and having those butterflies,’ but I was on the other end of it all.
"That is the risk we take when we fall in love with people and get attached to people. I was in a really sad place but in a way it was a good thing because I was so busy I could switch off.”
Despite her acting background, the drama student shares that some people can still get confused about her credentials.
“People can be confused, ‘Are you a waitress or are you an actress?’
“I had done some more acting and then went travelling but I would love to do more acting and more personality work but I definitely have felt the strain and the turbulence of that industry and so with that in mind at the moment I am working for an environmental education and consulting agency.
“We help organisations to reduce their carbon emissions — I have always been interesting in the environment since I was a child so it’s a perfect fit. It’s a four-day work week so there is space to do acting but it just means that my livelihood and my sense of worth doesn’t depend on my success on that one area, which is a hard thing when that is your be-all and end-all.”
One things that she has learned from the industry is to never Google herself.
“I am such a bad critic of myself, I watch First Dates with my boyfriend sometimes and I just cringe, I look at it and say, ‘I should have said this or I shouldn’t have done that.’
“I used to Google myself but then I’d say ‘you need to stop now.’
Celebrating today with her mum, Kathi, the mother-daugher duo had a chance to collaborate on our exclusive Magazine + shoot, as Kathi was stylist first and mum second.
“My mum has a boutique in Lahinch called Olive and Crew. She has an incredible sense of style and it is so lovely to have someone to advise me on my clothes and also have a resource to get nice clothes. It was so nice to get to work together on this shoot too.
“When I was a teenager I didn’t appreciate it because I was all about bodycon dresses.
“She had us young so at this point she is a mix of a friend and a mother, and we will go and have a glass of wine together and chat about what is going on, we have a very open relationship, we are very close. It isn’t that typical parent-child dynamic.
“She’s so proud of me and she loves the show too. When I’m living away she’d send me little videos and photos of me on the show.
“My dad is the same, if for any reason First Dates comes up he’ll be like, ‘that’s my daughter,’ it’s so sweet.”
“My mum lives nearby so I now have the job today to bring the gifts or make the food because my two sisters are living away.”
HAIR: Bridget Haren of Bridget Haren Hair and Beauty. bridgetharen.com
MAKEUP: Linda Lafferty of Bridget Haren Hair and Beauty
LOCATION: Armada Hotel, Spanish Point, Co Clare. armadahotel.com
FASHION: Olive & Crew, Lahinch, Co Clare. oliveandcrew.ie
PICTURES: Eamon Ward
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