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We had been talking for about 10 minutes when I asked Katie Cannon the name of the man responsible for her “15 minutes of fame” five years ago this summer.
“What WAS his name,” she asked herself. “I was just thinking about it.”
She knew that it started with a J, “but it’s not John.”
Finally it came to her: “Jamie ... Jamie Kelly,” at which point she gave a big, throaty laugh.
Five years ago, you see, Kelly, was mighty smitten with the graduate student from Riverport, Lunenburg County, whom he met on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to Dublin.
Her surname, then, was Moreau, and the 27-year-old woman had just finished two months working on organic farms throughout Spain.
In Ireland she was meeting her mom, who had roots in County Claire, and was on a trip back to the old country.
“I was nervous because I don’t like flying,” Katie recalled.
Her seatmate, who had gone to Barcelona for a music festival, was cute. He also spoke English, which she welcomed after all that time among Spanish speakers.
So they hit it off, talking about their families, travel, and all kinds of other things during the three-hour flight.
In the Dublin airport Katie looked around for the Galway IT graduate, but lost him in the crowd.
“I was like ‘cool ... bye,’” she told me. Then she boarded a bus to meet her mother.
The two of them had a great time touring the Irish countryside. When they reached a place with internet coverage Katie got a message from her sister: “There is someone who is looking for you.”
That someone was Jamie Kelly, who didn’t know her last name or phone number, and had called a Dublin talk radio station looking for help finding his Canadian beauty.
His romantic quest went viral on Twitter. It wasn’t long before the Ryanair Romeo made the CBC news, which is where Katie’s sister heard about her unexpected fame, and Ireland’s largest betting company was taking bets on whether Katie would move to Ireland, and if the couple would get married.
“It was odd and not necessarily in a negative way,” Katie said. “I was flattered. It was exciting and crazy how far it went.”
Eventually they connected and set up a date, which sounded quaintly old-fashioned.
Jamie picked Katie up in a limo, gave her a corsage, and then bought her some jewelry. The couple went surfing. They ate some tapas in Waterford. Afterwards they went out dancing where they met some people.
At the end of the night, James gave her an “awkward” peck on the lips at the doorstep. The next morning they were back at the Dublin radio station, telling the host how it all went.
She had no complaints: Jamie, who was a little younger, was kind, funny and easygoing. It was also good, Katie recalls, to get away from looking at all those Irish castles with her mother for a day.
“But there were no fireworks or anything like that,” she told me.
Then, just like that, it was kind of over.
Not immediately for Jamie, who appeared on a Brazilian radio talk show and continued to enjoy some local fame. But Katie headed back to Toronto, where she was just another masters of social work student at the University of Toronto.
For a while, they kept in touch on Facebook. Then it just fizzled out.
“It just wasn’t the love story everybody wanted so dearly,” said Katie, who worked in Toronto for three years, before heading back to Lunenburg County in search of a rural life somewhere “where a cup of coffee didn’t cost a million dollars.”
From the sounds of it, she has the life that she always wanted. Katie spends her days working in a century-old sail shop that sits on a peninsula surrounded by dairy farms.
Home is a “perfect spot” on a dirt road just outside of Lunenburg. There she lives with a guy she married a few weeks back, Spencer Cannon, who finds her run as a social media heartthrob kind of amusing.
“I lived happily ever after,” she told me. “I have no idea if he (Jamie) did.”
She doesn’t really think about him much at all.
Sometimes, though, people will recognize her, or recall the flurry of events in the strange summer of 2015.
Recently, she was at a wedding. There she met a woman for the first time. She took one look at Katie and said, “You’re that girl.”
When she admitted that she indeed was, her new acquaintance said, “Remember that time? That was crazy, wasn’t it?”
What could she do but agree?