Matchmaker Louise Byrne has told how she was inspired by her husband’s death to set up a new dating agency for those outside the Tinder generation.
The 65-year-old from Clonsilla teamed up with her son, James (42), who recently recovered from pancreatic cancer, to establish a dinner date agency: Soiree.
Louise says she wanted to offer something to others out there who might be feeling the way she did after her husband, Jimmy, died of bowel cancer five years ago.
She told Dublin Gazette: “For the last couple of years I’d be wanting to go out but everyone else was in a couple, so it felt kind of awkward.
“You know the way you’d want to get dressed up and go out and meet the opposite sex. It’s a far nicer way of doing it than Tinder, I wouldn’t be into that.
“You hear the horror stories and then there’s the danger of what can happen with people you meet online. With this, you’re part of a group of 12, and there’s a host there to meet you.
“It’s just for like-minded people who want to get dressed up and go out for dinner and get to know each other. We’re just starting, but already there’s huge interest.”
The soirees cater for 35-45 year olds, with another group for 45-55s and a third for over-55s.
Intimate dinner dates are arranged for boutique groups of 12 people at a time, with the chance to mingle in top Dublin restaurants such as Luna, Pichet, The Ivy and The Cliff Townhouse.
Those with a love for food and socialising who are interested simply register online on their website and Louise and James will do the rest.
She said: “There’s no sign-up fee. We set a price with the restaurants, then people go online and they buy their ticket. For that they get dinner and a cocktail.
“We will ask people for their favourite cocktail in advance so that is waiting for them when they arrive so they can relax and start to mingle.”
Louise hopes to build an app with the help of son James who she admits is the IT brains of the partnership.
She said moving to Bettystown, Co Meath and the business venture have given her a new lease of life.
She said: “I sold the house when Jim died because I always wanted to live beside the sea, though he wouldn’t have a bar of it. I’m practically on the beach.
“I’m really looking forward to this! It’s so exciting, it really is.”