A Cork bachelor's quest for love as he signs up to a dating agency at 73

The Echo joins Donal Moore as he takes the plunge and signs up to a dating agency
A Cork bachelor's quest for love as he signs up to a dating agency at 73

Eithne Buckley of Twoheartsmeet dating agency and Donal Moore from Hollyhill, at The Echo office on Oliver Plunkett Street. Picture: David Keane.

AFTER 73-years as a bachelor, one Cork man is eager to get back in the dating game.

Many could be forgiven for believing that Hollyhill man Donal Moore has it all. From a dapper dress sense to local fame, the 73-year-old has the world at his feet. All that he’s missing is somebody to share it with. Donal had been considering getting back into dating for a while. So when Eithne from Twoheartsmeet dating agency in Charleville offered him a free consultation, he jumped at the chance.

Eithne Buckley of Twoheartsmeet dating agency and Donal Moore from Hollyhill, at The Echo office on Oliver Plunkett Street. Picture: David Keane.
Eithne Buckley of Twoheartsmeet dating agency and Donal Moore from Hollyhill, at The Echo office on Oliver Plunkett Street. Picture: David Keane.

Serious ill-health and downright bad luck had hampered Donal’s chances at love in the past.

However, as he settled in comfortably for his consultation with dating agency owner, Eithne, the pensioner appeared excited about the future.

In the last few years he has become affectionately known as the most regularly featured passenger in The Echo’s ‘On the Buses’ column. While much of his fascinating stories centred around the past, he had also expressed an interest in meeting someone special.

Renowned in the dating industry, Eithne has been matching couples since 2011, many of whom have been in their 70s.

Donal was kind enough to let The Echo in on their consultation in the hope of encouraging other pensioners to take the plunge. Here’s how the conversation played out:

Donal: What I would be looking for in a woman is a good sense of humour. I’d also like someone who is easy-going. It would be nice to know that if I was going to the theatre she would be happy to come along with me. I go to see a lot of plays.

Eithne: I find that with the free travel there are so many possibilities for older people considering dating in Ireland. It’s a great advantage to those who are retired and healthy. They can go to Dublin and enjoy a midweek break and see a show in the theatre if they so wish.

Donal: Religion plays a hugely important part of my life. If I was going to be with a woman she would have to be a good catholic. I go to Mass all the time and I would like to find someone with the same values.

Eithne: Everything that you have talked about so far is pretty common, with the exception of religion. The majority of my clients have been open to dating someone of a different religion, even if they have fixed beliefs themselves. That said, everyone is different and it sounds like you were brought up to have strong faith.

Donal: So what do people usually pay for the service?

Eithne: Normally I charge €650 for two years’ membership. This usually amounts to as many as around eight introductions. Some people are matched within two months while others might stay with the agency for as long as 18 months. The amount of matches that someone can make in that time is limitless.

Donal: The reason I’d choose an agency is because I don’t like the idea of online dating. I see so many things on television about the damage online can do. I even saw a programme about a grown man who was posing as a 16-year-old girl. You hear all kinds of stories.

Eithne: The problem with this is that you can never be entirely sure who you are talking to. When matching up couples I always ask for proof of address and photographic identification. Unfortunately, there are opportunists out there. Being careful doesn’t just apply to the elderly, it applies to everyone. To say you can’t trust anyone seems like an awful mentality but you have to be clued in.

Donal: I agree. I’ve even told my bank that I won’t do anything online. I prefer to do these things in person.

Eithne: People like the confidentiality of a dating agency as well. When you’re putting a picture online it’s up there for everyone to see. That can be a worry for many.

Donal: So what does meeting someone through a dating agency involve?

Eithne: Well… if it’s a male client I’ll pick a lady in the same age bracket. I’ll contact them both and if they say yes to the match the man will make the initial phone call. They can have a cup of coffee or go to lunch or the cinema.

Donal: For me it would have to be the dearest restaurant. It would be nice to go somewhere locally to get to know the person first and see what their attitude is.

Eithne: I usually suggest that people just go for a coffee initially. Dinner for a first date can be awkward because you’re trying to chew your food while still maintaining eye contact. That can be a challenge in itself.

Eithne went on to offer Donal some first dates tips: My advice would be that you would foot the bill for the first date at least. Asking where she would like to sit also shows a certain level of consideration for your date. Another thing I will say is to keep the conversation balanced. Silences can be good. If you feel comfortable in someone’s company without talking then that’s a good sign that you and your date are compatible.

Donal: What I’d really like is a woman from the country. Even though I’m from the city myself I feel there’s just something about country people… Eithne: One of the things we look at is geographical convenience.

It may be possible to find someone who lives in the city and has country values. You never really know until you meet someone.

Donal: I’d go for someone even further afield. I think I could get on well with someone from the UK, America or the Philipines.

Eithne: Can you tell me if there are any other qualities you would be looking for in a partner?

Donal: I’m very neat and tidy myself and I would expect anyone else to be the same.

My attitude is that you should keep a clean house because you never know when you’re going to need a priest or a doctor.

Eithne: That’s true (Eithne laughs).

Donal: Thank you for taking the time to meet and chat with me. Is it OK if I ring you when I decide if I’d like to go ahead with a date?

Eithne: Yes of course our number is 085 7742444.

While Donal was brave enough to take the daunting first step back into dating, we can only hope that his search for love continues.

In the meantime, the good-humoured pensioner insists he has everything he needs.

“I was told by my doctor when I was in hospital that if it was any other man he would be six foot under,” he added.

“Being so ill put me off doing anything like this because it took me so long to get back to where I was before.

“Whatever happens I’m lucky to have my health.”

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