Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery was preparing to bid a heartbreaking farewell to her fiance today after spending her birthday making preparations for his funeral.
The Golden Globe winning actress was engaged to public relations director John Dineen, who died on Sunday morning in a hospice in Ireland after a long illness.
The 34-year-old, originally from Waterfall near Cork city, had been working with the FTI Consulting firm in London.
Dockery, who turned 34 yesterday, is understood to have spent the couple’s final days together visiting the Marymount Hospice in Co Cork where Mr Dineen was being cared for in recent weeks.
In a brief statement the family appealed for privacy as they made the final preparations for a private funeral service in Co Cork today.
“The family is very grateful for the support and kindness they have received but would kindly request that they are left to grieve in private,” a spokeswoman said for the actress said.
The couple are thought to have started dating in September 2013 after being introduced by Irish actor Allen Leech, who stars alongside Dockery in the ITV period drama.
Dockery, who played Lady Mary Crawley on the hit TV series, was recently on a promotional tour for Downton Abbey in the US.
The couple guarded their privacy closely with the actress only briefly referencing the love of her life in an interview over a year ago where she said she had a “wonderful man in my life from Ireland”.
Downton Abbey’s last ever episode, a feature-length special, will be broadcast on Christmas Day.
The public relations company which Mr Dineen worked for, FTI Consulting, paid tribute to him.
The firm’s UK head of strategic communications, John Waples, said colleagues were deeply saddened by his death and appealed for the family to be allowed to grieve in private.
“John was an immensely valued colleague and friend and will be sorely missed,” he said.
“Our thoughts are with his fiancee Michelle, his family and friends, as well as our colleagues who were closest to him, and we ask for privacy for his family at this difficult time.”