The fuse is lit and First Dates is back for a scorching new season, lighting up Thursday nights with a conflagration of fiery first impressions, burning hearts and old flames. 

This year, the game of love has new regulations meaning that daters will be suitably distanced, contact is strictly off the cards, and background diners are all from family bubbles, among them, friends and family of the daters we meet.  

Before we welcome Maitre'D Mateo, master-mixologist Ethan, and servers Alice and Pete back to our screens, we are looking back at some of the most memorable dates from First Dates Ireland history.

From the heart breaking and awe-inspiring to the weird and wonderful, these are just some of the dates to remember...

1. Laylah and Kyle

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

First Dates Ireland welcomed Laylah Beattie, the show's first transgender dater, to the restaurant in 2018. The then 20-year-old was matched with the lovely Kyle who identified as pansexual, meaning that he is attracted towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity. 

The two were exceptionally open on their date, allowing themselves to be vulnerable on camera while discussing various personal difficulties. While Laylah explained the obstacles she overcame while transitioning as well as her future plans, Kyle spoke candidly about dealing with his cancer diagnosis at the age of 17. 

Following the date, Laylah said that dinner with Kyle was "refreshing" because she didn't feel like she had to explain herself from the get-go and that she really enjoyed the experience.

2. Angie and Denis

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

In a particularly emotional episode, First Dates Ireland introduced viewers to Angie, a dater who opened up about her upbringing in an industrial school after her mother was put in a Magdalene Laundry*. 

During her date with retired trucker Denis, Angie explained her situation, saying: "I grew up in Athlone. I had a tough childhood and I was brought up in an industrial school. My mother was raped when she was 16 and had me at 17 and she was put in then to the Magdalene Laundries. She spent 15 years there and I spent my time in the industrial school until I was 14."  

Fortunately, Denis was a good listener and repeatedly complimented Angie on being such "a lovely woman". The two agreed that they would like to see each other again and even shared an on-camera kiss.

3. Rob and Leona

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

In 2019 viewers enjoyed a more light hearted episode of First Dates Ireland when they were introduced to Rob Mac, a dater who brought new meaning to the term ghosting...

The eccentric gentleman was paired up with 32-year-old Leona from Kildare and, happily, the two seemed to have more in common than they could have hoped for. However, things took a slight turn when Rob raised the topic of losing his virginity... to a ghost.

"This entity started to appear to me frequently and the kind of relationship between her and I developed in terms of her understanding and nurturing and just being so kind. One night it did progress into something very physical and, yeah, it happened three times."

Unfortunately, conversation came to a bit of a halt following this particular story. Leona spoke to the camera later saying that although she had some belief in the super-natural, it probably "wasn't to the same extent" as Rob.

4. John and Stephen

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

In 2018, First Dates Ireland featured a first for the show in both Ireland and the UK - a date conducted entirely in sign language.

Our daters for the evening were John, a 27-year-old design student from Edenderry and a member of the Deaf community, and Stephen, a 24-year-old a HR Manager from Dublin who is fluent in sign language.

The two men were handsome, charming, and confident but their dinner date revealed just how many difficulties Deaf people face while looking for love: 

"It's really frustrating when people talk into my ear," John told Stephen. "I have to say 'I’m Deaf!’ and then they just talk louder. I try explaining that talking louder doesn’t make a difference and it’s easier just to text."

Dublin is a small city, and the number of people with the ability to sign is limited, so it didn't come as a total surprise when it was revealed that John Charles and Stephen already knew one another. Thankfully though, that didn't stop these two from sharing a gorgeous date filled to the brim with cosmos and craic.

5. Dylan and Shane

Sparks were flying across the First Dates restaurant in pre-pandemic 2020 but none more so than between 24-year-old Dylan from Dublin and 25-year-old Shane from Cork. The two men seemed to be getting on exceptionally well, with a shared love for fitness and an undeniable zest for life.

Later in the date, the conversation took an unexpected turn when Shane revealed he had been diagnosed with HIV: "This is probably a bit of a bombshell," he told Dyan, "I got diagnosed with HIV just over a year ago. I've no issues telling anyone about it, really."

Shane explained that his diagnosis would not usually be a "first date discussion" but, given Dylan's background in science, he made the exception. As it happened, Dylan had studied HIV during his Master's Degree. The date continued with ease and the two even shared a kiss before leaving the restaurant.

6. Erinna and Keith

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Everyone loves a good love story, and being privy to a new relationship blossoming is part of the magic of First Dates Ireland. One of the most memorable matches of the show has to be 39-year-old Erinna from Killarney meeting 40-year-old Keith from Waterford.

The heartwarming date saw the two open up to one another about their day to day lives, plans for the future, and past tragedies, with Erinna telling Keith about the loss of her brother whom she was very close to.

Keith reciprocated his date's vulnerability by sharing details about his own life, explaining that he had been diagnosed with Aspergers. In a twist of fate, Erinna told Keith that she had also been recently diagnosed with Aspergers. The two were endearingly kind to one another throughout their revelations.

First Dates Ireland returns to RTÉ2 on Thursday 11th February, at 9.00pm.

*The National Counselling Service has been asked to provide counselling to former residents through its counselling locations. For information on available supports and information on how to access the HSE live team are on 1800 817 517, Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm.