How I met my partner: John and Fionula are opposites, but ‘one’ in their love

Fionula said she was enamoured with John’s ways from the start.
How I met my partner: John and Fionula are opposites, but ‘one’ in their love

Fionula and John Linehan.

A POSTPONED local disco was the catalyst to a love story that centres around the age-old phenomenon of ‘opposites attract’.

Sixteen-year-old John Linehan was frog marched to Spiders nightclub in Cork city by his older sister, Frances, where he met Fionula.

“With the postponement of the GAA disco, anyone under the age of 18 in the village of Carrigaline went into a deep despair, although not I, who was uninterested in going anywhere,” John says.

“I was forced by my big sister, Frances, into going to Spiders, whether I wanted to or not.”

Standing outside Spiders nightclub, Fionula spotted John for the first time.

“I was waiting in the queue for the doors to open. A tall, handsome guy passed along and I said to my friend, ‘Look, a lasher’,” Fionula says.

Eyes on the prize, Fionula spent the evening flashing her best dance moves in the direction of the tall, handsome stranger, but to no avail.

“I spent much time and many fancy dance moves trying to catch his eye and hoping he would spot me, but all six foot two of him leaning against a pole was totally oblivious,” she said.

Finally, Fionula’s moment of truth arrived. “The DJ announced, ‘It’s time to weave a web of intrigue: Ladies’ choice’.”

John said he found the experience overwhelming.

John described himself as an “extremely shy” man, so it’s just as well Fionula’s bold personality was able to keep the show on the road.
John described himself as an “extremely shy” man, so it’s just as well Fionula’s bold personality was able to keep the show on the road.

“Being a naive 16-year-old from the country, the city nightclub was somewhat overwhelming and I did not know what to expect. Remember, I was a child of black-and-white TV, no social media and the Catholic Church, 1970-80s: We were happy watching Jon and Ponch on Chips.”

Thankfully, 17-year-old Fionula had her wits about her.

“I boldly marched up to him and asked, ‘Would you like to dance?’ and that was the first time I spoke to John Linehan, as we swayed to Elkie Brooks singing Nights in White Satin.

“He says I pushed him down the three steps onto the dance floor. I protest my innocence, but even if there was a slight nudge, he stayed dancing and chatting with me all night.”

John described himself as an “extremely shy” man, so it’s just as well Fionula’s bold personality was able to keep the show on the road.

“As I am extremely shy, when the end of the night came, Fionula said, ‘Well, when are we going out?’

‘And so on Wednesday night we did, and Friday night and Sunday and that was 39 years, 11 months, and three days ago.”

Fionula said she was enamoured with John’s ways from the start.

Fionula said she was enamoured with John’s ways from the start.
Fionula said she was enamoured with John’s ways from the start.

John said: “They say opposites attract and this struck me after only a few nights out. The first present I bought Fionula was a vinyl LP, Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret and, at the same time, had to treat myself to Combat Rock by The Clash: Poles apart.”

Fionula said: “John is tall, I’m not. John is quiet, I’m not. John likes the heat, I don’t. I could go on, and on, so I really think we fit into the ‘opposites attract’ saying.”

At the start, John had his doubts about the longevity of the relationship, but almost 40 years later, those concerns have long been put to rest.

“Whilst I thought this may never work, we are only a few weeks away from celebrating the 40th anniversary of that night in Spiders, and I have seen our two beautiful ‘childults’, Kadie and Kerri, grow into mini Fionulas.”

Fionula said she revelled in the age difference once she discovered she was a year older than John.

Fionula said she revelled in the age difference once she discovered she was a year older than John.
Fionula said she revelled in the age difference once she discovered she was a year older than John.

“It took him a full year to tell me he was only 16 that night we met. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, a toyboy’, but I was smitten at that stage and so I have worn the title of ‘cougar’ since, all be it just a year older.”

Offering advice to anyone looking for love, Fionula’s, without surprise, is to take a chance and go for it.

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