In the summer of 2008, Darragh was travelling home to New York via Heathrow after a holiday in the Balkans. “Everything was delayed,” he remembers. “I was offered a room in a hotel for the night as I couldn’t get back home that day.”
He went down to the bar to drown his sorrows. “It was packed with people watching a European Championship quarter-final match. I overheard an American woman ordering a martini,” he says. When the bartender gave her a full glass of vermouth by accident, she went “ballistic”, he says, causing a huge scene.
Shortly after, Darragh heard another American accent. Susan was travelling from California to visit her sister in Berlin and had also been delayed. “I was put in the smallest hotel room I’d ever seen, so decided to head to the bar for a drink,” she says. She, too, ordered a martini. Darragh says: “After what had just happened, I said I wouldn’t do that if I was her.” Susan opted for a beer instead and they began chatting.
“It was very comfortable straight away,” she says. “We were belly laughing and when we finally looked up we were the only two left in the bar.” Darragh says they had lots in common. “We had both been married previously and had a lot of the same interests. We even liked the same beer,” he says. They exchanged numbers and travelled on to their destinations the next day.
A month later, Darragh was visiting Los Angeles for work. “I told Susan I’d be coming and asked if she wanted to go for a drink.” Susan wasn’t sure if it was more than a friendship, so she brought some friends with her. But she and Darragh soon realised there was a spark; they shared their first kiss that night. After another meet-up, at the beach, Darragh flew back to New York.
The pair kept in touch and he returned for a visit in August, with Susan visiting him in New York for Thanksgiving in November. Before they had met, Darragh had been planning to move to either the UK or his home country, Ireland, but his plans quickly changed. “I found out I was able to transfer to LA in April 2009 so I could be closer to Susan.”
The couple lived in separate apartments for a year, before moving in together in 2010. Three years later, they got engaged, marrying in their back garden on 4 July 2014. “We planned it in six weeks and hired an Irish band. It was such a great day,” says Susan.
Despite their happiness, it felt like there was one thing missing. “We’d been trying for a baby since 2011,” says Susan. “We had four years of unsuccessful fertility treatment, which was really hard, but brought us closer together.” By the time they married, they had “given up” and decided to pursue a life filled with travel and other fun activities.
“When there were a few signs I might be pregnant on our honeymoon, we didn’t want to get out hopes up, after so much disappointment before,” says Susan. “When we got back and I realised I was, it was amazing.” Their little girl, Aoife, was born in 2015.
Not long after, the couple made the decision to move to Oregon, Susan’s home state, to be closer to her family. Since 2016, they have lived in McMinnville, 30 miles outside Portland, with Aoife and their two dogs. Susan has started a chocolate-making business, while Darragh works in hospitality. “Marriage can be hard, but I know he will always be there,” says Susan. “No matter how dark and gloomy things are, we’ll always find a way to work through anything together.” Darragh loves his wife’s smile and sense of humour. “She has no airs and graces about her. She’s real and genuine,” he says. “Susan is such a great person, so ambitious and driven. She’s always supportive of anything I want to do or try.”