Searching for true love

 

I'm collecting love stories of the 20th century. I started researching A Century of Love in January and the finished programme will be screened on RTE next autumn.

We are looking for people or couples in their 60s or older who believe they found true love and have unique stories to tell about living and falling in love in the 20th century. So far, we've been talking to people who experienced war and emigration, couldn't - or didn't marry because of social prejudice. We want to hear all their love stories.

We plan to finish the research by the end of February and then we will go out and meet the people with the best stories. Hopefully we will be filming before the summer.

Some of the stories are quite moving. One couple we talked to met and fell in love in Dublin when they were in their early 20s. Then the man emigrated to London and though they kept in touch at first, both of them married different people. But they never forgot about each other and when they met up again later in life they still had feelings for each other. When both of their partners died, they finally married each other.

Then there's a couple who also fell in love in their early 20s, but the woman died while they were still young. Decades later, the man still remembers her as the love of his life. There are also stories from couples who fell in love at first sight, and although they are now in their 70s, 80s or 90s, they still feel this love so strong. That's true love.

I think you know you've found true love when you feel you've found someone you've been waiting for all your life and you'd give up anything for them, no matter what the obstacles, you'd always want to be with them. Years then pass, and this matures into mutual respect and companionship.

Although my day varies quite a lot, depending on what stage of production we are at, at present I spend my mornings speaking to local newspapers and radio stations around the country, telling them what we are doing. So far I've done 28 radio interviews. We've got a good response from this, and it's very important as we are targeting different groups of people.

Last week, I was a the British Legion Club on Sir John Rogerson's Quay for a gathering of veterans of the second World War. There was a dance on that night and all the wives were due to attend, so I though that would be a good night to find some war stories.

Another night last week, I went to a ballroom dance for older people in Parnell Square. I find older people respond better to people face to face. Gaining their trust is very important. When I talk to them on the phone, I have to be very patient and it's important to be a good listener. I think you have to have a knack of finding a story in every person's life. You have to ask the right questions to find a way of getting them to open up.

I studied law at UCD, but I knew I never wanted to be a lawyer. Although there was the lure of the big bucks, I thought I could make money working in television - and it's important to work at something you find satisfying. So after college, I worked in television in London for a few years on light entertainment shows like Thin Blue Line and French and Saunders. Before coming back to Dublin, I went travelling for a year around Africa and Asia. It's love at the moment, but as a researcher the work you do is generally dictated by he content of the programme you are working on.

In conversation with Sue Carter