Kildare Community Stories Facebook page has a wonderful report of a long-distance love affair that culminated in a wedding last week.
Check out their Facebook page for news from around the county
An Athy woman and her now French husband took the concept of town twinning to new heights when they tied the knot at a wedding ceremony in Grandvilliers last weekend.
Because of Covid 19 Susan Leulier’s family from Ireland were unable to attend but joined in the celebrations via Zoom.
Giving the background to the international love story Susan explained that she moved to Athy 25 years ago.and got involved with the local town twinning committee when chairperson Tom Kearney asked her to become the secretary.
“My two boys TJ and Wesley were sports mad and I was already helping with administration at the local soccer club. I told Tom I’d do it until they found someone else. Famous last words!,” she recalled.
Athy is twinned with Grandvilliers, a small town close to Beauvais in France since 2004. TJ went on a soccer trip there and Susan accompanied the group as a chaperone.
“I saw Alain for the first time that weekend. He’s a teacher and soccer coach, so he was involved with the teams.
Sometime later, Alain came to Athy on a twinning trip with his son Benoit and stayed with Susan and her family.
“Athy families host their French counterparts during these trips. That’s the twinning way,” laughed Susan.
“Alain didn’t speak English and I had no French, so there wasn’t much conversation. We were both going through divorces at the time, so we weren’t thinking of romance,” she recalled.
Every alternate year, Alain would come to Athy and stay at Susan’s family home. Friends tried to matchmake them, they would drop hints and seat them together at twinning functions.
“Nothing was said, nothing happened. And yet there was a connection. We would dance together on those occasions. I really love to dance.,” said Susan.
“Three years ago, Alain came to Athy again. His English was better by then and one evening, after a few pints with the twinning group, he asked if he could come back to Athy. I said, ‘Sure, you come back every second year for the twinning’. He replied, ‘I meant that I would come back to see you’,”. And so their love story began.
“We e-mailed back and forth after that and got to know each other that way. It was nerve-wracking. I was 49 then and wondered if we were doing the right thing starting a new relationship when we both had complicated histories.
“I flew over to see Alain every month. I worked in Vanity Fair boutique in Newbridge and my boss was very understanding about me taking time off. I think she could see it was the start of something and she wanted to help.
“After a year and a half of doing that, Alain sat me down and said, ‘It’s time for you to move to France’. I had just bought a new house, but I knew he was right.
“I moved over in January of this year. The day I left Ireland was the hardest day of my life,” Susan recalled.
“I had no doubts whatsoever but leaving my two boys behind was a huge emotional wrench. They’re both in their 20s now and have their own lives but it was still tough. They love Alain and they encouraged me to go – that was really important to me.
“Now I’m living in Grandvilliers, in a house surrounded by farms. The timing wasn’t perfect with the onset of a global pandemic, but I keep myself busy. I love art and design and I find and upcycle furniture pieces. I keep in touch with my family and friends at home too. They’ve been a great support.
“Alain and I got married last Saturday in the council office in Grandvilliers. My family couldn’t be present but they joined us on Zoom.
I’m very happy with the path I’ve chosen. I have a new life now, even if the sweltering heat makes my straight hair curly!
“Alain and I are happy together and we know each other so well. Alain is a little older and I’ve had a brush with cancer so we both know there’s no time to waste.
“He’s a good man. I want for nothing.
“I have absolutely no regrets.”
We wish the happy couple every happiness in their new life together