On Christmas Eve I was chatted up by a young man in a pub. Well, I thought I was being chatted up! Out with my two gorgeous daughters and my husband, I was briefly unengaged in conversation when this rather attractive male suddenly questioned me to ask, “Did they just call you Mum?”  Amused by his impertinence, I answered in the affirmative. Did he think I was too young to have children of this age? No, seemingly not; he just found the moniker amusing. “What happened to the good old Mam or Mammy?” he pleaded.

My daughters, listening to me argue unconvincingly as to why it was a perfectly valid word, were soon called upon by the young man to give their opinions. They politely answered him, enjoying the banter. Then he asked me if they were single or “taken”. I told him they were both in relationships. Unhappy with my reply, he wondered if they were long term or serious. The girls were ignored. But listened, amused. All questions were addressed to me. Again I discouraged him. Eventually, we moved away as we had other people to meet.

But I was rather amused by the incident. Is this the new way to get a date?

 I admired the tenacity of this young man and the originality of his approach. What a novel way to get the girl and this fellow was doubling his chances.    

Then I remembered a similar situation from my own youth. I arrived back home one weekend from teaching in Dublin to find that my mother had arranged a date for me. This brave guy had phoned the house and told my mother that he would like to take me to the cinema at the weekend. Instead of asking him to phone back, my darling Mum assured him that I would love to go. So when I remonstrated with her, she, like many Irish Mammies, told me that I could phone him myself and break the poor fellow’s heart, but that she would not. So I went. It did not end well.

So are Irish men again resorting to the mammy to get hooked up? Does she know best? Are dating sites like Tinder and Plenty of Fish passé? (Are you impressed that I even know those names?) My girls wish they had brought me to the pub more often when they were fancy free and uninvolved. I could have been their secret weapon. I certainly would have weeded out the chancers and unsuitable suitors early on.  I had some experience of men like that a lifetime ago!