While Dockery’s character Lady Mary lost her husband Matthew in a car crash, Dockery lost her fiancé John Dineen to cancer.
“One of the difficult things at the time was the parallels with Mary,” Dockery told The Guardian in 2017. “It was just baffling, and still is to me, that my character’s storyline was so similar.”
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Dineen died in December 2015, a week before the final episode of Downton Abbey aired in the UK. He was just 34 years old.
Dockery and Dineen, a public relations executive, started dating in 2013. Dockery never revealed much about him in interviews, except to say that she’d met him through her Irish Downton Abbey co-star Allen Leech, who played Tom Branson.
“I have a wonderful man in my life from Ireland,” she said in 2014. “We were introduced by Allen Leech. That’s all you need to know.”
Leech later spilled a bit more.
“John’s like family to me and I knew he’d really get on with Michelle,” he explained. “She’s a great girl – probably as far from Lady Mary as you could imagine.”
Dineen worked in London, and the couple were occasionally snapped together out in public, including at Wimbledon and the Venice Film Festival. Dockery posted photos of herself on social media wearing a jersey from Dineen’s favourite rugby club, Munster.\
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