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"He still had my letters" - the Irish woman who married her American teenage penpal

Siobhán Moran and David Roth started writing to each other in 1993. Then last year, he finally found her again after years of trying.

Siobhan Roth David and Siobhán

AN IRISH WOMAN has spoken of the whirlwind romance she has just been through – with the American penpal she had last spoken to 20 years ago.

Westmeath woman Siobhán Moran first made contact with Californian David Roth in 1993. She was supposed to be looking for a German penpal, but had designs on talking to a Californian, who might put her in touch with her teenage crush, actor Edward Furlong (John Connor in the film Terminator 2). David meanwhile had simply heard that Irish girls “were cute”.

“We wrote to each other for about three years,” Siobhán told the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio One earlier today. “We wrote about anything and everything – boys, girls, you name it. I would write essays to him, and he’d write back a quarter page. Writing wasn’t his thing. But he liked me apparently.”

David’s final correspondence to Siobhán was a recorded message on a cassette tape – in which he declared his love for her. Unfortunately the message never made its way to its destination.

Lost in transit

“I had moved to Dublin for college and changed address a couple of times. He was telling me he was ready to come over but I never received the message. I guess it was just lost in transit,” she says.

Time moved on and David and Siobhán both moved on also. She ended up being practice manager for a podiatrist in Dublin. David travelled the world, and eventually married.

“He married a Russian girl – he has Russian heritage. I guess it wasn’t a great marriage but he did his best. It lasted eight years,” says Siobhán.

Then, it was September 2014 and I was sitting there twiddling my thumbs, and I checked in on Facebook, which I wouldn’t do very often. And I had a message in my inbox I hadn’t seen, sent seven months previously. And it asked “might you be my penpal from 20 years ago?” I was chuffed to say the least.

Siobhan

Soon one or two emails a day became 10 or 20, then became hundreds. The couple ran up enormous phone bills before they discovered Skype.

“I think our longest conversation was nine hours,” says Siobhán. “He’s a truck driver so he works long, long shifts. That and the time difference just found us talking to each other online for long periods.”

David had been trying to find me, and once the internet happened that got easier. He used the Golden Pages and called any Siobhán Moran he could find online. He got onto my old school and joined the past pupils group to try and find me. He sent emails to all the girls to see if anybody knew me or what I was doing. He even contacted the Coombe Hospital in Dublin where I was born.

But having finally tracked down the woman of his dreams, things then moved very swiftly for David and Siobhán.

Love on the phone

“We fell in love over the phone really,” Siobhán said.

He was honest from the start, he said I was the girl for him and that he’d always had feelings for me. And I thought ‘you know what, this is a really genuinely nice guy, he’s been honest with me, why not give it a go?’
So I packed a bag, took three months off work, and came over to the US. And from the get-go we kind of knew we had something special.

Their first date was to a safari park in Santa Rosa near San Francisco, an experience Siobhán describes as “mind-blowing”.

We did some travelling around, but we just knew from the start. After a month he proposed to me and I said yes. That was Valentine’s Day 2015.

The couple were married three months later on 5 May, the festival of Cinco de Mayo in the US. Two months later Siobhán was pregnant.

“We’ve a little boy on the way,” she says. “Just nine or 10 weeks to go now.”

Talk about moving fast.

The couple have now settled in Central California. Siobhán is “hoping and praying” that they’ll get to return to Ireland one day. But this is one marriage that seems to be as strong as they come.

“He still had all my letters,” says Siobhán happily. “I kept all of his and he kept all of mine.”

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