Looking for love? You never know where it might come from! For Kenny Brown, it appeared from half a world away.
Kenny didn’t know that going square dancing would change his life. But during a square dancing night nearly 30 years ago, he lost his heart to an Irishwoman.
Annette, a widow from Dublin, Ireland, was in Kenny’s part of Pennsylvania visiting her sister, who had come over from Ireland several years before. After dancing the night away with Annette, Kenny couldn’t resist asking her out to dinner the following evening. Much to her own surprise, Annette agreed.
The dinner was such a success that as they sat on Kenny’s front porch enjoying an after-dinner ice cream, he went out on a limb and asked Annette to marry him. Annette’s daughter, Sandra Sheerin recalls, “To be honest, she laughed in his face and told him, ‘Absolutely not. I have baggage, and it’s called four daughters back in Ireland. Where I go, they go.’”
Kenny was unfazed, however. He encouraged her to bring her daughters to America, where he could care for her and the girls, and they could work together to fix up his old house into a family home.
Annette returned to Ireland on her own, fully expecting never to hear from Kenny again. The Thursday after she got home, however, the phone rang. Kenny was on the other end, encouraging her to take his proposal seriously. She didn’t say yes then, but he wasn’t giving up.
For an entire year, Kenny continued to call Annette every Thursday evening. After a year of calls, Annette countered with her own proposal. She and her daughters would move to Pennsylvania, so she and Kenny could try really dating for one year. After that, if the magic was still there (and her girls approved), she would marry him.
Their dating experiment proved a success, and one year later, Kenny and Annette were married. “Their relationship was one of incredible sacrifice, friendship and plenty of humor,” reminisces Sheerin.
Annette and her children became a long-term part of their new Pennsylvania town. Sheerin says fondly, “The entire community accepted us as a very welcome addition to their lives.” The new family worked together, running a diner and country store.
Kenny’s love for his Irishwoman changed his life, and it also transformed Annette’s life and those of her daughters. Sheerin shares, “Ken not only went above and beyond his call of duty as a stepfather, but he certainly proved that there are amazing and decent men out there who will overcome anything for love.”
The Rest of the Story
Sheerin continues, “Unfortunately, our beloved stepfather, Kenny Brown (or Dad, as I have always known him to be), passed away six years ago, but we have always remained the ‘Gaelic Girls’ of our town.”
Today, Annette and three of her daughters still live in the United States. Sheerin has returned to her native Ireland. She is the director of the Gaelic Girl program, which helps American college students come to Ireland for study, work and exploration. “And sometimes they fall in love with an Irishman!” she adds.
There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent on a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid. —Proverbs 30:18-19
Annette captured Kenny’s eye and his heart, and he was determined that this Irishwoman would be a part of his life forever. Sheerin says, “My Mum left everything in Ireland at 35 years of age, with four kids in tow, to try her hand at a new way of life with a very persistent man who stopped at nothing to make her his own.”
How far have you gone for love? Whether around the block or around the world, share your love story with us.