A romance born out of one man’s initial love – that of vintage tractors

This week's How I Met My Partner tells the tale of Derek Burke and how he found the love of his life.
A romance born out of one man’s initial love – that of vintage tractors

Singer Derek Burke and his wife Claire Burke with their children Ollie (right) and Robyn. The couple feature in this week's How I Met My Partner

FORMER Crystal Swing star Derek Burke opened up about how a trip to view a vintage tractor led to him meeting his future wife.

Derek Burke found fame over a decade ago after performing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show with his sister Dervla and mum Mary. The group split up after Derek and Dervla both settled down to start families of their own. However, neither would have it any other way and enjoy reminiscing about their Crystal Swing days.

While Derek was no stranger to the limelight he relished being at home in Lisgoold, spending time with family and friends.

On one occasion Derek visited his cousins where he met a friend of the family. The pair became engrossed in conversation about Derek’s specialist subject-vintage tractors.

“He told me he had a working vintage tractor and I was very impressed. He invited me to come and see the tractor and I accepted. It was something I was really interested in looking at. At the time I had no idea if that same man had any family.” Derek never anticipated that going to see the vintage tractor would change the course of his life and the man would eventually become his father-in-law.

“That was my first time seeing his daughter Claire,” he said. “She had her pony out and was giving some of the local children pony rides around the field. It wasn’t part of anything official. She just wanted to do something nice for the kids.” The pair experienced an instant connection.

“We got chatting and later chatted on Facebook. The chatting on Facebook lasted about a week before it went stale. The conversation ran out.” Luckily, Derek refused to give up and asked Claire out on a date a few months later.

Claire and Derek Burke strike a pose on their wedding day. The pair opened up about their love for each other in this week's How I Met My Partner
Claire and Derek Burke strike a pose on their wedding day. The pair opened up about their love for each other in this week's How I Met My Partner

“At that point, I wasn’t thinking of her as my future wife. She was a good-looking girl with a nice personality that I wanted to get to know. Our first date was the cinema. I can’t exactly remember what she saw but Claire has never liked action films so I’m pretty sure it was a comedy.” The 31-year-old cast his mind back to the day of the proposal.

“I had to come up with some story to get Claire up to Bunratty Castle. She is a fluent Irish speaker so I convinced her that TG4 wanted to film a documentary on Crystal Swing and were keen to feature her. None of the rest of us can speak Irish so I was lucky that she bought it.” Derek even managed to get Bunratty staff in on the act.

“When we arrived there, staff told us they were waiting for the camera crew who had been delayed. They asked if we would like to go see Santa while we were waiting. We went to see him and he gave us both presents. When Claire opened hers there was an engagement ring inside. That was the moment I got down on one knee. I planned it that way because I knew that there would be a photographer with Santa which meant we would have lots of lovely pictures to remember the moment. She was really surprised and hadn’t expected it for a second. I knew once we got engaged that our relationship was strong and we were going to be together forever.” Derek is glad he took the plunge so early.

“My parents got married young and they always told me not to wait around if I met the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Both of my parents got married in their early twenties and I love the idea of being young enough to watch our grandchildren-and even grandchildren-grow up.” In the blink of an eye the pair was married and had already welcomed their first child (Ollie) into the world.

“That was a very different experience,” Derek said. “It happened very fast and we didn’t know what to expect. Mum had offered to bring us dinner every day and we initially declined, reassuring her that we would be fine. The one bit of advice I would give to people with a new baby is to accept any help like that you can get. We thought we wouldn’t need them but when they came we were so grateful for them.” Not long after, Robyn-now one and a half-also entered their lives.

“Robyn’s birth was just as special, only this time we knew what we were doing which made it a little easier.” Parenthood has only brought the couple closer.

“The kids are my priority. If I had to sell everything and live in a cardboard box in the morning for then I would do it. Family is all that matters.”

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