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How We Met: Knocked Off Her Feet

A 'bumpy' start to the relationship




Photo, above by Jessica Venus Photography

When Gillian Sheerin woke up one December morning in 2007 feeling woozy, nauseous, and confused, her first inclination was: Had I partied too much the night before? She and a girlfriend had gone out to a bar for a drink. But Gillian’s extreme symptoms including a pounding headache and barely focusing eyes suggested this was something more.

Gillian was living in New York City at the time. After college, the Ridgefield High School graduate moved to San Diego for a couple of years, but then like so many of her friends, she headed to Manhattan where she worked for the New York Times as an advertising trafficker. She often met up with friends after work and on this particular chilly night, the two women sat on bar stools catching up over a drink.

Gillian had noticed Damien—the “cute, though a bit cocky bartender with the irresistible Irish accent”—although she had never had a real conversation with him. Damien also noticed Gillian, who frequented the bar where he had worked for the past six months. She was the quiet girl who he never got more than a “hello” out of. 

Damien, an outgoing guy, had migrated to the United States from Northern Ireland, where his family still resides. He came to the U.S. one summer to visit friends and was lured to stay by the better weather and greater opportunities. 

He immediately became a very-much-in-demand Irish bartender, though his real dream was to become a firefighter. For the moment, however, he was enjoying his carefree life in the city.

On the night Gillian and her friend were enjoying their drink, Damien stopped in the bar to say hello to a former co-worker. He joined the two women and in his flirtatious way, he playfully shook Gillian’s dangling foot. “She had on long boots and I lifted her foot to look at them,” says Damien. 

“I guess I lifted her foot too high,” he adds.

“In that instance, I flipped over, fell off the stool, and hit my head,” says Gillian. Shaking off her embarrassment she assured everyone that she was OK, but the next day her extreme symptoms led her to an MRI and she was diagnosed with a serious concussion.

Meanwhile, Damien had no idea of the damage his foot jiggle had caused. When he found out weeks later he was horrified and immediately called to ask Gillian to dinner so he could apologize.

One date led to another and Damien realized his carefree days were over. The couple moved to Ridgefield where Gillian grew up, married in 2011, and now have two children ages three and four. Gillian is a Halstead Real Estate agent and the originator of a popular mom’s group in town. Damien became a citizen in 2013 and during the same year he fulfilled his lifetime dream of attending the fire academy. He is now a New Canaan firefighter. 

Both enjoy telling the story of how it all began ten years ago this month when Damien literally knocked Gillian off her feet.


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