One thing is for sure — the lockdown blues will find it hard to take down 79-year-old Denis Hynes.
An air of positivity and brightness radiates from his voice over the phone.
Covid-19 restrictions dictate no face-to-face meetings so our chat takes place over the line.
Having appeared on First Dates Ireland on March 3, Denis became a local celebrity.
“I’ve received so many phone calls and texts, even all the way from Cork. I was pleased with the way it turned out. It was a great experience,” said the McAuley Place resident.
Although his date Marie (75) felt Denis was still grieving the loss of his wife and wasn’t ready to move on, the pair remain friends and are in contact.
Denis explains he was previously on another TV dating show a year and a half ago.
“I met a lovely lady from Dun Laoghaire and we are still in touch as well. I am a bit of a celebrity I suppose,” he laughs.
Denis lost his wife Celia in 2019. Having overcome cancer of the colon himself, he lovingly looked after her for two years as she struggled with Alzheimers disease.
Together for 57 years, Denis still thinks of her every day.
“She was a real lady. She died very peacefully in my arms at Craddock House Nursing Home. They were fantastic to her. I still miss her, but that’s life. You have to go on,” he says.
Not phased by the continued lockdowns, Denis acknowledges these times are tough for many people.
Although he is careful to adhere to the restrictions, he loves walking and goes for a three mile trip down the canal every day. Golf also played a major part in his life until recent years.
He beams when he speaks about his home at McAuley Place — a gathering of 53 residences for independent older people in the heart of Naas.
“This is a great place to live. The person who started it all was Marguerite Solan, she set it up. It really is marvelous,” he adds.
The Convent Tea Rooms, an arts and culture centre and a community centre are also on site.
Denis explains how he used to organise concerts at the venue prior to Covid — something he hopes to do again, once the restrictions are lifted.
“I hope they lift the restrictions very soon. It is very hard for a lot of people. We have a really tight knit community here, but I haven’t seen a lot of people since the lockdown came in. People are staying in and being careful,” he stresses.
However, his First Dates experience wasn’t dented by the Covid safety precautions.
“We sat a good distance apart at the table and we met all the restrictions. It was very well done,” says Denis.
The food was lovely and he really enjoyed the date at the Gibson Hotel.
“The filming of the meal took well over an hour but they only show small snippets of it.”
Denis’s enthusiasm for life is as buoyant as ever. Despite the loss of his wife, he has embraced new challenges and refuses to let Covid-19 get him down.
Denis pictured with his late wife Celia