A number of years ago, in Topic Newspapers Mullingar, a hard working young man from Bunbrosna named Ray Carolan worked as a graphic designer. Ray was a pleasant young man and a good worker and was destined to go on to make progress.
After leaving Topic, Ray freelanced for a while, contracting himself in web design work amongst other things, until in 2019, he met Claire Weston, the woman who changed his life …. and the rest, as it turns out, is history in the making!
Their story became a fairytale romance story this week, of course, because Ray Carolan, on one knee, proposed to Claire Weston live on RTE television’s Late Late Show last Friday night, 11 February. Claire had no idea this was going to happen but quickly agreed to the proposal.
When Ryan Tubridy said: “Do you want to say something before you go?” with cheers rising from the studio audience, Ray proposed to Claire, who had joined him on stage.
“Claire, sweetheart, ever since the first day I met you I’ve know I’ve loved you. You’re the best mother, you’re the best girlfriend a guy could ever have and I adore you so much, love you to bits.
“You’ve seen me at my weakest and you stood by me and we’ve done so much together and I want to do so much more together with you. So, Claire tonight I’ll ask you to be my wife. Will you marry me?”
After saying “yes” Claire and Ray were joined on stage by some of their close friends. Claire did not realise it at the time but her Mother was in on the plan and was watching everything online from Canada.
“This is so, so great,” one of their male friends said. “This couple is unbelievable. They ooze happiness and warmth and they make it effortless. Ray is such a great guy and Claire is a beautiful lady but they complement each other so well,” he added.
Meanwhile, the couples’ friend Jen said: “I’m just so delighted for you guys and you look fantastic tonight,” and when Topic caught up with Claire earlier this week, she was still floating on Cloud nine but was delighted. Topic also spoke with Ray, who was very happy with his decision and is 100% sure this is the best thing he’ll ever do in his life.
Ray is from Bunbrosna, just outside Mullingar and grew up playing GAA for Bun’ in his early days. He also played for Westmeath at U21 level. He is still an avid fan and supports all local games. Ray worked for Topic for a few years in the early 2000s before branching out to set up his own consultancy graphic and website design company, and eventually, setting up Lakeland Kayaks lakelandkayaks.ie.
Claire was born in the UK but has lived in Mullingar since she was thirteen, having spent a few years in Canada in between. Claire’s father sadly passed away some years back but her mother is well and lives in Canada. Claire studied in Athlone and towards the end of her studies, she joined forces with Ray and they set up Lakeland Kayaks.
How They Met
Ray and Claire first met in Columbia Bar, Mount Street Mullingar in 2019; Claire was feeding Ray’s dog her leftover pizza crust, when she and Ray struck up a conversation. That was all she heard of him until about nine months later, when they met again in town, and the rest is history!
Claire and Ray started their business shortly afterwards and operated Lakeland Kayaks from a back bedroom in their house in 2020. There was a great demand in the market for their business and so the company and romance grew from strength to strength.
Their business has gone to such limits that they are now in this year’s finals for the Small Firms Association Awards, which takes place in April 2022. The couple will attend an important Trade Show in the RDS this March and in April, the gala event and finals of the awards will take place, with the winners being revealed on the night. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that another Westmeath company will take home the award this year; Wholesome Kitchen (Restaurant) in Mullingar was a successful award winner last year at the Small Firms Awards.
The “Cool” Proposal
The couple already featured on the Late Late Show in November 2021, on the Taking Care of Business Show, which highlighted “Couples in Business Together” at the time. Ray tells us the second invite for the show came a few weeks ago when one of the RTE researchers, Joe, touched base with him and asked how things were going for the business and asked if they would be interested to come back on RTE and give an update.
The friendly chat gradually led to asking how the relationship was going and when Ray indicated he had marriage plans in his mind at some stage, Joe helped him along and set the seed, indicating that this was perhaps something he could do on live TV! Ray went on to seek the blessings of Claire’s mother and managed to set the scene for the proposal without Claire’s knowledge, and with help from Joe, the friendly RTE researcher!
While speaking with Topic, Claire told us that she’s only just getting a chance to take in everything that has happened over the weekend. She went on to say that “it has lots of meaning to go back to the place where you started and realise how far we have come as a couple and as a business. It’s cool to be proposed to like this and when I think about it, it was the best place for it and the best way to do it”.
The couple say that they will most likely marry in late 2023. They plan to start to built their own house in Bunbrosna soon and both really “look forward to the future.”