Happy couple: Anne Marie and Pat Keane who found love in east Limerick Picture: Dave Gaynor
THE BALLROOM of romance in Dromkeen may be gone but the Millennium Centre in Caherconlish is its natural successor.
American lady Anne Marie and her husband Pat Keane, born in Limerick but who has spent most of his life in England, got married just four months after meeting in the east Limerick venue. They both flew in especially for the 50th birthday party of a daughter of Peter and Rita Quinn, Caherconlish, on August 21, 2015.
And the couple, aged in their seventies, returned from Los Angeles on Friday night for Peter and Rita’s 60th wedding anniversary party.
“We’re back to the scene of the crime,” joked Pat. He is a brother of Rita’s while Anne Marie’s daughter Deanna is married to Simon – a son of Rita and Peter’s.
It was Anne Marie’s first trip to Ireland in 2015 and she can remember the night they met vividly.
“Pat smiled at his brother-in-law Peter, I was sitting right next to Peter and I thought he smiled at me. My heart just went ‘Oh my God’ - who is that handsome man? I was like a teenager. It was love at first eight,” smile Anne Marie.
Pat felt Cupid’s arrow too. “I did, honestly. Within a few weeks I went out to Los Angeles to see her. I booked a trip back to Ireland to introduce her to the family.
“The immigration lawyers said you can’t leave the country until you get your Green Card. I had booked all the flights and tickets to The Phantom of the Opera and I had to lose the lot because I couldn’t leave the country,” said Pat.
In fact, he wasn’t even planning on going to the birthday party in Caherconlish where he met Anne Marie.
“I was living in England. I was away playing golf and when I came back my niece phoned me up to say could I come over to Ireland for her 50th birthday party.
“I said no because I was going off to Spain in another few weeks and I said I couldn’t but she talked me into it. She said you have to come over and meet your nephew, his wife and the mother-in-law. I said to my friend in England I’m going over to meet my nephew, his wife and the mother-in-law. I said I hope the mother-in-law is alright!”
Pat ended up marrying her.
“I had to go in front of the immigration people in America because they check you out that you’re legit. I told him the exact same story, he stood up and said, ‘Welcome to America, you couldn’t make that up’,” he added.
Anne Marie was a widow for six years when she met Pat while his marriage had dissolved some years ago.
Anne Marie can remember the song that Pat asked her to dance to in the Millennium Centre.
”It was Frank Sinatra’s My Way,” she said. In another coincidence Rita Quinn looked after Ol’ Blue Eyes when she was a supervisor of two restaurants in the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
During Pat’s time in Los Angeles they chose to tie the knot.
“We just decided on the spur of the moment to get married. We had only known each other four months but we figured how much time do we have left - we want every single minute of it,” said Anne Marie. The happy couple now live two miles from the ocean in LA but where they met – the Millennium Centre – will always hold a special place in their hearts.
See page 21 for photos and story from Peter and Rita Quinn’s 60th wedding anniversary