From jogging to gigging: How Tony caught his sporty spice

This weeks How I Met My Partner hears from Lillian Courtney, who was pursued romantically, in an unconventional manner, when Tony hired her for a fake gig.
From jogging to gigging: How Tony caught his sporty spice

Lillian Courtney on her wedding day to Tony Courtney.

“To get asked out, you need to make an effort because your future husband isn’t going to knock on your friend door.” Lillian Courtney from Glanmire still remembers her mother’s words like yesterday. It might have been sage advice if-of course-it hadn’t happened exactly like that.

Mum always told me that no man was going to knock on your front door, but that really is how it happened.

In Lillian’s case that man was Tony Courtney who-decades on-she remains happily married to.

A recent photograph of Lillian and Tony Courtney with their children (from left) Jonathan, Rebecca and Adam
A recent photograph of Lillian and Tony Courtney with their children (from left) Jonathan, Rebecca and Adam

By a hilarious quirk of fate-Lillian ran into the then local heartthrob on a trip home from the South of France.

At just 22, Lillian was already at a crossroads in her life after breaking up with her French boyfriend of nine months.

“I had been living in the South of France at the time,” she explained and was home for a holiday. “I was out jogging in Glanmire and was very thirsty after working up a sweat while jogging. I knew a friend working in a pub called the Groves so I called into her to see if I could buy a drink before going up the hill. I got a soda water and lime and had intended to leave straight after that. However, I met a friend of mine who said it might be good to stay and hear the band playing. I was only wearing a tracksuit at the time but I ended up staying to hear them play.” Lillian recognised a familiar face in the band.

“I instantly recognised one of the band members was our insurance man. I went up to chat to him and told him that I was a singer and available to do gigs.” Nonetheless, it was another member of the band who she had transfixed.

“I had seen Tony before but I couldn’t remember where I knew him from. “ Lillian soon filled in the blanks.

Lillian Courtney and her now husband Tony Courtney (far right) performing with Lillian and the Classics
Lillian Courtney and her now husband Tony Courtney (far right) performing with Lillian and the Classics

“I had actually seen him when I was singing at a wedding. He was the photographer but I thought he was the groom because he was dancing with the bride all night.” 

Lillian was surprised to hear Tony had called to their family home the next day.

“I laugh because my mum used to say that if you want to be asked out you have to make an effort because no man is ever going to just knock on your door. I always laugh when I look back on it because that’s exactly what ended up happening.” Tony insisted he had good reason.

“He had told my mum that the band was playing a gig and they badly needed a singer.” A talented performer, Lillian was only too willing to oblige.

“The way I was dressed you would have thought I was back in the South of France. I had a black dress and long diamante earrings. Anyway, the venue turned out to be this tiny pub in Military Hill.

I got chatting to this woman who had no clue who I was. She told me that they never had music and Tony had planned the gig to impress some girl.” Staff at the time had found Lillian amusing for a number of reasons.

“I asked for a martini and they just laughed and said they could give me a Heineken. I settled on a white wine but they still had to go to an off-license in St Lukes to get it. “ Lillian still hadn’t figured out she was the object of Tony’s affections.

“It turned out that the whole gig was fake. I got paid and all- with what turned out to be Tony’s own money! When I found out I realised just how shy Tony was. He went to all that trouble just to ask me out. It was very flattering. Our first date was for a walk in Mount Melleray.” 

Tony proposed three times until-Lillian joked-he eventually got it right.

“I had actually seen him when I was singing at a wedding. He was the photographer but I thought he was the groom because he was dancing with the bride all night.”
“I had actually seen him when I was singing at a wedding. He was the photographer but I thought he was the groom because he was dancing with the bride all night.”

“The first time he asked me I said “I will yeah!” because I thought he was messing. Even when everyone was laughing I still didn’t believe it. The second time he proposed was on stage. The third time he handed me a box while we were out for a meal and told to wait before opening it. He went away to chat to a friend and of course I couldn’t wait to open it.” Lillian and Tony remember their wedding day with fondness.

“It was a great night.,” Lillian said. “I can still remember my dad dancing all over the place, despite being just after a triple bypass. In those days the bride and groom had to be done by midnight. I was sober as a judge. Everyone else went into town clubbing and we were bored to death back in the hotel.” 

The couple share three children Jonathan, Rebecca and Adam, “I think having children solidifies a relationship. They are all very musical and we are very lucky to have that in our lives. We are very proud of all our children.”

Lillian and Tony remember their wedding day with fondness.
Lillian and Tony remember their wedding day with fondness.

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