How we became bosom buddies after a chance encounter
To mark National Best Friends Day today, Linda Stewart talks to two sets of women, one who bonded at a bus stop and the other on Twitter over a mutual love of dogs.
‘Living a couple of streets apart we’re now inseparable’
Grainne Glenny (28), who works for a Belfast PR firm, became best friends with Aisling McDermott (28), thanks to a chance encounter at a bus stop after moving to Belfast in 2015. Grainne, who now lives in Holywood, is in a relationship with marketer Martin Muldoon (29), originally from Lisburn.
I'm from Clare in the west of Ireland - it's a small village called Newmarket-on-Fergus and a couple of thousand people live there.
I moved to Belfast in 2015, taking the huge leap to move in with my boyfriend. I have to admit it wasn't as easy as I thought and I was quite homesick, wondering if I had made the wrong decision.
It was a complete shock - it was harder than I thought.
I guess I didn't realise how different Northern Ireland was to where I am from.
I found it so tough to meet people that I could be friends with and separate my life from Martin a little.
Then in March 2016, on a wet, wild and windy morning in east Belfast, it all changed. I was running late for work and it was torrential rain.
I missed the bus so I went to a different bus stop where a girl was standing and she turned to me and said 'Would you like to share my umbrella?'
I noticed her accent was similar to mine so I asked where she was from. It turns out she is from the same village as me in Co Clare.
We're the same age and both lived in Newmarket-on-Fergus all of our lives, but our paths had never crossed. We had never met before until that day. She had also moved for love and her boyfriend is also from Lisburn.
We spent the entire journey chatting on the bus, then we friended each other on Facebook and met the very next day for lunch.
Living just a couple of streets away from each other in Belfast, we are now inseparable, and knowing each other has helped with our move to Belfast.
We have each other and our boyfriends over for dinner, we go for brunch, we work out together - normally a run on the shore in Holywood.
We have girly nights to blow off a bit of steam - sometimes we stay in, sometimes we go out but wine is always included.
I am so lucky to have found a lifetime friend in Aisling and to think I found her 250 miles away and not at home is just mad. She is my closest confidant here and I couldn't imagine life without her now."
‘Straight away I could tell she had a similar accent to mine’
Aisling McDermott (28), an HR associate with Axiom Law, lives in east Belfast and is in a relationship with Jason Haydon (28), who works in Santander. She says:
I was standing at the bus stop in torrential rain. I just had my big golfing umbrella up and this girl came round the corner and she was getting soaked. So I said to her 'Do you want to come under' and she said 'That's very nice'.
Straight away I could hear that she had a similar accent to mine and I asked where she was from and she said 'I'm from Co Clare'. So I said I lived between Newmarket and Shannon and she said I live in the village of Newmarket.
It was less than five minutes from my home and I was stunned. We had gone down completely different routes. I went to school in Shannon and she went to school in Ennis, but we had never met.
But it transpired that our dads and our brothers know each other. Our boyfriends are both from Lisburn - it's crazy coincidence.
When I got into work I had a friend request from her on Facebook.
I don't think I ever met her on the bus again, but she asked me to come over for a bit of food.
We're both from home and there is a connection there straight away - it's been so lovely having someone that gets it.
We are so similar in our approach to things and we laugh about the same things, talking about the things that happened up in Belfast when we were settling in. It's brilliant.
Grainne lives in Hollywood now, so we have quite a few walks along the seafront which is brilliant.
We've definitely had a few drinks that went on into the early hours of the morning.
Our boyfriends are both big Manchester United fans so we would go to the pub together and they would watch the match and we would catch up. The two of us love our wine.
Grainne and Aisling shared their story as part of Northern Ireland's Bus and Train Week. To mark the week Translink will hold events, offer special fares and other activities with a number of local authorities, community organisations and business representatives. For more information, visit translink.co.uk/busandtrainweek/
‘We hit it off on holiday soon after we met up’
Best friends Grainne McGarvey (35), of Pulse PR, and Aine McGurk (38), who works for a property company, became friends after the pair bonded over pictures of Aine’s dog on Twitter. Grainne lives in Rosetta and is in a relationship with Daniel Murray (34), an accountant.
We met in January two years ago, when Aine was tweeting about her dog, who is called Guinness and is a chihuahua. She had put up pictures of him on Twitter and I joined the conversation because I really wanted a dog.
Then we started talking on Twitter — she started following me and we decided to have a chit chat and I said to her, ‘would you mind meeting for lunch’?
Aine had just moved home from Scotland and she had set up a blog and wanted some help with it.
A couple of weeks later, I was due to go to Krakow with another person who pulled out of the trip.
I was going during the week, so it was hard to get somebody to travel with, but Aine was in the process of getting a new job, so she had a bit of free time. It could have been quite an intense experience to go on holiday with someone I didn’t know that well, but we just hit it off and had the best time.
We were born a day apart and we are just very similar in ways. We both love dressing up and make-up and we always compared notes about the latest lipstick.
We’re different too, because Aine is really into music and I’m not. And when I was single and we were comparing men, the men we went for were completely different.
We are both country girls, as I have Co Fermanagh roots, who live in Belfast and we seem to get on well. We’re around the same age and we have the same issues in life.
We go to Cru Club in south Belfast occasionally on a Saturday afternoon and we could quite easily spend a couple of hours catching up.
Aine and I also bonded over our love for Angela Lansbury’s character Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote. We are big fans and last August went to a Murder She Got Wrote event in the Maple Leaf Club in east Belfast for Eastside Arts.
We were part of the audience and even dressed up as our favourite character. While we didn’t win best-dressed, it was great fun.
I live near Stormont, so we go for a wee walk every Wednesday. We are open and honest together and Aine is very good at giving advice.
I still haven’t got a dog — I’m still waiting. My boyfriend doesn’t really like dogs, but maybe one day.”
‘We like food and going out ... but we are different too’
Aine McGurk (38), from Dungannon, now lives in east Belfast and works for a property company.
My dog is Guinness and he’s a black and white chihuahua. He’s got his own fan club. I meet a lot of people through Guinness, because they stop and talk to you because of him.
Grainne tweeted me about my dog and we got chatting about him, then we ended up meeting for lunch in Howard Street in Belfast.
She was going to Krakow in Poland and we ended up going together quite quickly after we met. We got on really well and we’ve been friends since then.
We hit it off on Twitter. Other people might find it strange, but I lived away for a long time and you have to take those opportunities when they come.
Because I’ve lived in Edinburgh and Dublin, I’m used to being away and having to make an effort to make friends. You can’t rely on an old network of people.
Others probably find it a little bit strange, but Twitter is how I have made a lot of my new friends. If you think you might get along with someone, you meet them for a coffee or lunch. For me, it’s as simple as that, if you hit if off with someone, why wouldn’t you?
I think we both like food and going out. We’ve very different in many ways, personality wise.
We’ve a birthday a day apart, so maybe it is a star sign thing — we are both Libra, which is the sign of balance.
You can always rely on Grainne to want to go somewhere, as she’s always up for an adventure.
It feels as if I’ve known Grainne a very long time.
Our outings don’t have to be anything major — perhaps just going for a walk or going for a coffee together. It’s a very natural friendship.”