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“I’ve had a drunk guy in a restaurant come up to me and my partner at one point and say, ‘Congratulations, I really admire what you’re doing.’” Getting a clear picture of the number of interracial relationships in this country is difficult.

Straight-up racism was slugged at the couple like a brick to the chest.“There was one time we went to Tesco,” remembers Otukoya.I have spent several weeks speaking to couples and people with various experiences from across the spectrum of interracial dating.Enar’s stats are consistent with what I hear during interviews conducted for this story – that black people, particularly black men, who enter interracial relationships with white Irish women suffer the sharpest abuse.You can sense you’ve crossed a barrier you shouldn’t, and that becomes a problem.” There are other disparities in experiences, depending on what part of the country a couple lives in, their social circles, and family history.

Tara Stewart and Karl Mangan, for example, report no tangible distinction between their relationship and anyone else’s, but they see themselves as living in a liberal bubble.

Interracial relationships are becoming more common, but are still relatively rare.

Speaking to the couples themselves reveals that such unions face distinct challenges.

“We came out, a car drove up, called her a ‘n***er lover’ and drove away. She was obviously deeply upset because she couldn’t be seen as someone who was in a genuine relationship.” Richard Bashir Otukoya: “There was no, ‘Oh look at this guy, he’s got a job, he’s doing his Ph D.’ There was none of that.

It was just, ‘No, you’re black.’ That’s it.” Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times As someone who has suffered “subtle racism and explicit racism” all his life, the incident did not unnerve Otukoya (“That’s fine because then you know their intentions”).

Richard Bashir Otukoya has some bad relationship stories. They ripple with a hurt most of us don’t experience.