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For ever and Eva; FARRELL'S EX IS ENGAGED TO HER ROCK STAR LOVER.

Byline: MAEVE QUIGLEY

SEXY Irish actress Eva Birthistle has become engaged to her rock musician boyfriend.

The 30-year-old blonde who has been lauded for her role in Aae Fond Kiss has been spotted recently sporting a sparkler on her engagement ring finger.

A source said: "Eva was wearing a ring on her engagement finger at the London Film Critics Awards recently.

"The sparkler was spotted as she held her award for Best British Actress for Aae Fond Kiss which she shared with Kate Winslet.

"She has been going out with drummer Raife Burchell for almost three years and they have a house together so it wasn't exactly out of the question.

"The couple are very much in love and very happy together. So I suppose walking up the aisle would be the next obvious step."

Raife, 29, is the drummer in rock band Jetplane Landing with his brother Jaime and Derry's Andrew Ferris and Cahir O'Doherty.

Eva was born in Dublin but moved to Derry when she was 14. She has been living in London for the past few years as her acting career took off.

A pal said: "Eva met Raife through Andrew as the pair grew up in Derry together.

"Romance only blossomed a few years ago after they had been friends for a while.

"But since then their relationship has gone from strength to strength.

"Eva has always said she is too busy to get married just yet - her acting career has been on the up and up and she has already won a good few awards for Aae Fond Kiss.

"But things seem to have changed now - there's always time for love after all."

When she lived in Dublin Eva was in a relationship with Hollywood star Colin Farrell - a romance she has never spoken about publicly.

An insider said: "Eva was one of Farrell's few long-term girlfriends but they split up rather acrimoniously.

"It was way before either of them were household names and Eva refuses to talk about it. She believes it is in the past and she doesn't want to be just known as one of the people who went out with a Hollywood star."

Eva has always been open about her relationship with Raife but in the past has denied that she is in any hurry to marry.

She said: "We met through friends.

"He is English but his mother is Irish and brought him up as a Catholic.

"I am not practising, but it is nice to have that connection."

And although the stunning star bought a flat with Raife just over a year ago in London's trendy Notting Hill area, Eva was then insistent that was as far as she was prepared to go.

She said: "That's quite enough commitment for the moment. I am not planning to get married soon."

But a pal said: "It's great news that they are engaged now - they are a very committed couple and I suppose they just thought the time was right."

CAPTION(S):

No fuss or fanfare, but Eva Birthistle's engagement ring was evident as she picked up her trophy for Best British Actress in Aae Fond Kiss London Film Critic's Awards
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2005
Words:530
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