“The oxygen left the air when I laid eyes on him,” recalls Marion, who has been blessed to have three great loves in her life.
When she tragically lost her first love, Tom Creedon, the father of her child, in a freak accident, she met Cormac 10 years later and they got married.
“My darling son Tom, my boy, my world, my why, was my reason to live when I lost Tom. My boy is the spit of his father.”
Tom Creedon was a real-life Adonis.
“His skin was tanned to a shade of mahogany, and his hair was tousled and sun-bleached blonde,” recalls Marion, who was immediately smitten.
“He was so handsome.”
Marion almost swooned behind the reception desk at Grafton Health Studio in Lower Oliver Plunkett Street, where she worked before she got her act together.
“I took Tom’s details for membership. He was going for a game of squash with his pal. My heart beat faster,” says Marion, blown away by this tall, handsome, athletic man.
“Tom had been working in Africa as a civil engineer for several months and that explained his exotic appearance. I was mesmerised.”
Marion came to her senses and she got her breath back.
“I couldn’t let him get away!” she says.
“I decided to ask him out when I realised he was shy. We arranged to meet in Dwyer’s pub on Dawn Square in Cork for our first date.”
The beautiful dark-haired girl and the handsome Macroom man made a striking couple.
“Once our eyes locked, it was like we were the only two people in the world,” says Marion.
“Tom was quiet, but on our second or third date he said to me, ‘You’re so beautiful, why aren’t you in the movies?’” says Marion, remembering the first heady dates with her first love.
Marion was walking on sunshine and she was walking on air.
“My heart soared every time I saw him.”
The feeling was mutual.
“I adored him and he adored me. We were smitten from the very beginning.”
“As a couple, we were different in many ways,” says Marion.
“I knew little about GAA, and Tom played football for Cork. Tom was from Macroom; we were city people.”
But it was a sparkling match made in heaven.
“When Tom proposed, I wanted a solitaire ring to signify our oneness, our unity,” says Marion.
The blissfully happy couple married on September 24, 1980, in St. Joseph’s Church, Old Youghal Road within 18 months of meeting.
“I was the happiest bride that day,” says Marion. “And Tom’s eyes shone with love for me.”
They became entwined.
“We had found our other halves,” says Marion.
The world was their oyster.
“We were in our 20s, healthy, in love, and with our whole lives ahead of us.”
But they hadn’t. A tragic freak accident was to claim Tom’s life in August, 1983, rendering Marion a young widow with an infant son to raise alone.
“I had no idea that all those dreams we held for the future could be shattered so easily,” says Marion.
“When our baby, Tom, was born, we were even happier. I couldn’t imagine that we could be happier.”
Then it all changed, changed utterly.
“Tom was moving furniture in a van,” says Marion, recalling that fateful day when life as she knew it shattered into fragments.
“Tom Jnr was strapped in the back of the van,” says Marion.
“Tom stepped out of the van for a moment and the van began rolling down the hill. Tom ran after the van, realising the child was in the back of the vehicle and it was heading towards a group of children playing at the bottom of the hill. Tom went under the wheels. He saved our child and he saved the lives of the other children.”
After 16 weeks in a coma, Tom lost his own life. Marion’s life was in tatters, after losing the love of her life.
“I was a young, petrified widow. My beautiful husband had died, less than a month short of our third wedding anniversary.”
Marion’s life was shattered and her heart was shattered.
“I realised that you could actually die of a broken heart,” says Marion.
“Tom was a beautiful human being. He was no saint but he was my perfect man.”
Marion was distraught after Tom’s tragic death.
“I was out of my mind with grief. I went down to six stone. Those grim months after Tom’s death are a blur.”
But the son that she and Tom adored and cherished was always on her mind.
“I had a boy I adored. He saved me,” says Marion.
“My son Tom saved me and my image consultancy business saved me. My family and my friends supported me solidly. I was lucky.”
Marion had been lucky in life and lucky in love until she lost Tom.
She began to pick up the pieces.
“I have great faith,” says Marion. “It saw me through the darkness. The grief dims but it never goes away.”
Her friends rallied and helped her try to live her life again.
“My friend Helen and I went to the White Witch in Cobh for a bit of fun. She told me that my business was going to be very successful.
“I thought, is that it? Then she said I would meet a man who would travel in a boat and he would be important in my life. She told Helen she’d meet a man in a white coat. We thought ah! A doctor!”
Marion’s knight in shining armour didn’t arrive in a boat but he did arrive into a Cork hostelry where Marion was one night.
“There was a hen night in the club for a nurse,” says Marion.
“My friend and I noticed two random men arriving in chatting to people.” Had Marion dated anyone since Tom died?
“My heart wasn’t in it,” says Marion.
“Even though I was lonely and I missed the emotional intimacy of being a part of a couple.”
She often dwelt on the love of her life.
“I talked a lot about Tom and that put men I met off as well.”
Marion’s pal decided to play match-maker on her behalf.
“I said don’t draw him on me! She had called one of the two men in the club over to us.”
What were Marion’s first impressions of Cormac?
“I met him a month later as part of a foursome with my cousin,” says Marion.
“He approached me and that was our first official date.”
He seemed familiar.
“I thought is that the guard that stopped me on the road asking for my insurance!” says Marion laughing.
Cormac was serious.
“Cormac was reserved and gentle,” says Marion.
“And he was tall, lean, and good looking. There was something about him that reminded me of my dear dad.” There was something else about him.
“He was eight years younger than me!” says Marion.
“That scared me a little.”
Cormac Hegarty didn’t scare easily.
“But he did tell me that on our first date when I drove us to Kinsale to meet my cousin; he was terrified!” says Marion, laughing.
“I was familiar with the bends on the road and he hung on to the dash-board stamping on an imaginary brake with his feet when I swung around the corners. He was terrorised!”
Marion’s mother approved of him.
“She said, he’s perfect for June! June is my younger sister by 16 years!”
While Marion was slightly perturbed by the age difference between herself and Cormac; she knew that love conquered all.
"Cormac is like my best friend, my soul-mate,” says Marion.
“He is my partner and my business partner. We have a lot in common. His Dad was from Lough Hyne in West Cork. We gelled.”
Did he own a yacht?
“No but he did travel to and from the UK for business, often by boat!”
So the White Witch was spot on?
“Not really! says Marion.
“My friend Helen later met a butcher with a white coat; not the doctor she had envisaged meeting!”
Marion and Cormac married in Grange, Douglas in May 1990.
Marion, having survived terrible grief and tragedy in her life, found true love again during her life-time.
“I am lucky to have found love twice,” says Marion.
Marion and Cormac are content to sail into the sunset together.
“Retirement in our house in Reanaroga near to where Cormac’s grandmother lived overlooking the Atlantic, is idyllic,” says Marion.
“And we spend the winter months in Lanzarotte.”
Has Marion, the young widow, the young mother, and the young successful business woman who made her mark in the beauty and image consultancy world, slowed down a bit?
“Retirement is less like the end of the road and more like the start of a new journey on a high-speed motorway!” says Marion.