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Shannon man on tonight’s First Dates episode

“MY personal opinion is that it will be an episode that will get remembered. I don’t know if I’m being a bit brash about it but it had such an impact on me; I left at the end of the meal traumatised. I’m not an easy person to get into that kind of state so if I felt that, I can only imagine what the public will think when they see it on Thursday.”

So says Peter McInerney, who lives in Ballycasey Park and works at the Shannon Knights off licence, ahead of this Thursday night’s episode of First Dates on RTÉ.

The national broadcaster’s publicity for the show says, “Lorraine (51) from Limerick is seeking a Hollywood leading man in the mould of Orlando Bloom, mixed with Johnny Deep and topped off with The Rock. Is off-licence manager Peter (52) from Clare the action hero to save her love life?”

The date has been promoted by RTÉ on the trailer in advance of the episode and has also been featured in the national media already, so it is very likely it will be worth watching.

To capitalise on the appearance, there will be a showing of the episode at the Knights on Friday, as a fundraiser for Bunratty Search and Rescue.

Speaking about how his appearance on the hit RTÉ show came about, Peter says, “The email was sent to me with the application form. Somebody got it and they sent it to me as a bit of a joke. I looked at it and I decided the following day that I’d fill it out, send it off and see what happens. The whole lot has snowballed since there.”

That initial application was in May 2018, so the journey from application to appearing on this week’s show has been a lengthy one. “There were a few procedures. There was a phonecall interview. I had to send them in a small snippet of a video with a few questions they asked me to answer. In late June or early July, then they called me up to Dublin for a session with them. By that stage, I was on the long list and they called me back maybe two or three weeks later to say they had found me a date.”

Walking into the First Dates restaurant, which has become so familiar to viewers over the last few years, was a fairly daunting moment. “I have to say, I was nervous initially. I turned up maybe an hour before my date time; I had a plan if it didn’t work out and stuff like that. When I went in I met Mateo and I was nervous until I met my date, Lorraine.”

Under strict instructions not to give the game away, he won’t say much about how the blind date went but admits it was very memorable. Whether that was for positive or negative reasons will only become clear on Thursday night. “I just would say that for me it was an experience I won’t forget for a long time. I’m not shy and I work with the public on an ongoing basis so I’m used to meeting a lot of people but Lorraine was exceptional!”

Peter feels the First Dates team did well in matching him with the type of person he said he wanted. “I asked for certain criteria; I asked for a bubbly, outgoing, confident person and I received that in bucket loads. It made for a very interesting date and a very enjoyable evening, in all fairness. She’s a lovely woman and we just had so much craic and fun through the whole dinner.”

Peter is now in a relationship but saying if it is with Lorraine or not would ruin the suspense.

In relation to the screening at the Knights on Friday, he says, “I do a lot of running but I’ve been injured lately. I normally do a run every year, maybe a half marathon or marathon for charity. I wasn’t able to do that, so I got the idea of supporting a local charity through this. Bunratty Search and Rescue, with the work that they do and being local enough to Shannon, I just felt it was a good cause to support.

“Our plan at the moment is that there is no admission. We will show the episode again, everyone will have a bit of fun and a bit of craic with it. We’re going to sell some raffle tickets and the proceeds will go to the charity. There will be some members of Bunratty Search and Rescue there and there might be one or two buckets if anyone wants to make a special donation.”

The event is happening in the same week as the death of one of Bunratty Search and Rescue’s founding members, Bob Cotter.

Peter is taking Friday off work, so people coming into the off licence looking to see the local TV hero will have to wait a while longer.

His son in Dubai is having a party for his friends to coincide with the episode and Peter himself is enjoying the craic that is coming with the appearance.

“It’s my 15 minutes of fame, so I’m making the most of it. It has been interesting. It has been very good; it has kind of gone beyond where I expected it to go, I knew the date was exceptional; I knew we had something special. But The Clare Champion ringing me, the Sunday World ringing me; I was supposed to be on 2FM this week but it got cancelled. It really has snowballed into something a lot bigger than I expected. I’m embracing it for what it is.”

More than anything, he hopes there is a good bit of support for Bunratty Search and Rescue. “I hope people come down on Friday night, support a good cause and enjoy the craic,” he concluded.

 

Owen Ryan