Society: It's all coming up Roses for Fringe
The sashes, clashes and on-air car crashes of The Rose of Tralee will be brought kicking and screaming back to life thanks to actress Erica Murray.
Erica is one of the bright young things taking part in this year's Tiger Dublin Fringe and will debut her show Oh! What a Lovely Rose!
"I used to chase the Roses down the street when I was a kid," she said. "It was very important to me growing up."
Murray will regale us with tales of satin gúnas, proposals, dashing escorts and questionable party pieces - from break-dancing and playing the spoons, to assembling garden furniture.
"Just don't ask me who my favourite Rose of Tralee host is," she pleaded. "That would be like Sophie's Choice".
This year, the Fringe are celebrating their 21st birthday and the launch was a suitably messy, sweaty, and glittery affair.
Comedian Al Porter was full of chat about 2FM's re-shuffle and his "swinging both ways in the name of art".
"I am channelling Dean Martin and doing a singing swing show with The Swing Cats," he said. "Proof that you don't have to be able to do something, do to it."
In between rehearsals, Al is flitting to and from Belfast where he's shooting bits and bobs for the BBC. "It's very manic."
As ever, the Fringe is a colourful mish mash filled with wrestlers, acrobats, Eurovision fanatics, matadors and cross dressers.
"It's a landmark birthday," Director of the Fringe, Kris Nelson said. "So we wanted to celebrate in style."
Performance artist Xnthony was hanging about the bar in a pair alarmingly tight trews. "My show is called Douze and it's all about the politics of the Eurovision," he said while supping a bevvie.
"My dream is to represent Ireland in Sweden next year."
Producer Dan Colley discussed his artistic experiment with the "Fringe lab rats" - it sounds a lot dodgier than it is.
There were whispers that Big Bobby. Little Bobby by Camille Ross will be this year's runaway hit.
And of course, everyone was terribly excited about the return of the Spiegeltent. Australian acrobats Scotch and Soda will swing from the rooftops to the music of the curiously named Crusty Suitcase Band.
No smoke screens at Urban Decay soirée
By Kirsty Blake Knox
Eye shadow and shimmer have always been a bit of a mystery to me, but this week I joined a gaggle of make-up junkies in the Dean Hotel to hear all about Urban Decay's new smoky palette.
"8,000 people are on the Irish waiting list," weather wonder woman Audrey McGrath told me.
After the demonstration, I got talking to model Jo Archbold who plans on trying her hand at TV presenting. Apparently her other half, Voice of Ireland host Eoghan McDermott, has been giving her plenty of helpful tips. "He's really supportive," she cooed.
Actress Leigh Arnold nursed her pregnancy bump. "I have another seven weeks left so this is the only production I am focused on."
Waiters zipped about the place as PR queen Roisin Tierney-Crowe showed us how to turn those tired blinkers into sultry bedroom eyes.
Maura's on to a winner with her style
By Bairbre Power
We were up at dawn, I kid you not, to prep; paint nails, curl hair and swap notes at our judges' breakfast before the Kilkenny-sponsored Best Dressed Lady at Ballybrit.
Painting her nails in the hotel reception, Maura Derrane looked the picture of glamour in her Fee G dress and Martha Lynn hat. She caused a sensation when she appeared in full-on glamour, to be snapped by racegoers arriving home from the night before for a quick rest before dashing back to Ballybrit.
"Last minute dotcom," joked the Galway woman, who was looking forward to enjoying a day out with her make-up artist sister Róisín.
"Cal is at home with John who is dad-sitting," explained Maura, who has had a dreamy summer with her young son on the Aran islands, and the couple hope to grab a week away before she returns to the Today show in RTÉ Cork at the end of September.
Ladies' Day at the Galway Races has been compared , rather aptly I thought, to the All-Ireland Final of Style.
Mandy Maher, owner of Catwalk Model Agency, told me how her nude, sculpted Umit Kutluk dress had arrived down on a bus from Dublin on Saturday night.
It was impossibly chic worn with a black net swirl hat from Carol Kennelly.
There were quite a few helicopters landing into Ballybrit and top model and food blogger Roz Purcell made it a double first - her first time at the Galway races and first time up in a helicopter.
"I started modelling after the Celtic Tiger so I was never up in a helicopter and I haven't seen a horse yet as I've been walking around with my dad, John, admiring the outfits," said Roz, who wore a green Aisling Ahern hat from Create at BTs.
After the races, the model, who is training for an Olympic triathlon in September, went to the Meyrick Hotel on Eyre Square to judge their Most Stylish competition, and she was back again yesterday judging the Athlone Town Centre Best Dressed Competition.
Irish designers poised for bite of the Big Apple
By Bairbre Power
Funny how plans for a Park Avenue showcase of the best of Irish fashion in New York started over an 11-course meal during a food festival in Listowel.
The conversation continued when stylist Marietta Doran talked Jimmy Deenihan and other politicos onto the catwalk for an Oireachtas charity fashion show in the Shelbourne.
Suited and booted and fresh from his holders, Jimmy Deenihan, the Minister for Diaspora Affairs, announced details of the inaugural Ireland Fashion Showcase on September 10, which will be held in the Irish Consulate, supported by Irish Design 2015.
"How's your protégé?" Jimmy enquired, referring to Kerry's footballing fashionista, Paul Galvin, who called me Wintour when he wrote menswear for Weekend magazine.
Many of the designers taking part in the NYC show attended the launch, including Lucy Nagle (pictured above), Fiona Heaney of Fee G, Jennifer Rothwell and jeweller Chupi Sweetman Durnan. When I cooed in admiration at her brand new couture range of 'chain mail' neck-pieces, she lifted it off her neck, and I happily wore it judging the Kilkenny Best Dressed Lady at Ballybrit on Thursday.
Also driving the event is Orla Diffily, founder and co-producer of Kerry Fashion Week and the KFW Irish Fashion Industry Awards. New York-based Kerry woman, Erika Fox who blogs and instagrams as Retro Flame, has worked for Whitney Port, Olivia Palermo and Refinery 29, and she will be acting as PR and Social Media Consultant for the event.
Opera with lunch? Don't mind if I do
By Kirsty Blake Knox
I decided to give the flurry and flutter of the Ballybrit race course a miss this year, heading instead to the Galway International Arts Festival.
Enda Walsh's installation piece A Girl's Bedroom and Olwen Fouere's Endless were my first ports of call. After which I popped over to the Aula Maxima to hear former Vogue Features Director, Jo Ellison, chat about gowns and her best and worst interviewees (Taylor Swift = the best, Beyonce = the worst).
Louise Kennedy, RTÉ producer Alice O'Sullivan and blogger Sinéad Burke were all there.
Speaking of fantabulous festivals, it's time to grab that beret and bottle of Beaujolais as Opera in the Open returns. Huzzah!
This year, the festival has a distinctly French flavour and is being supported by the French Embassy. To celebrate its launch, a pop-up version of Orphée et Euridice sprang to life in Merrion Square on an otherwise quiet Thursday afternoon.
"It's impressive, non?" Cultural Counsellor at the Embassy Frederic Rauser said. Once it was finished, we filed out of the park agreeing it was a novel way to get over the lunchtime slump.
New D4 store has Lotts to offer
By Bairbre Power
It was good to see Paul McNerney looking so well when I called to celebrate the opening of Ireland's coolest grocery store, Lotts & Co, which he has opened in Ballsbridge's digital hub, with his brother Barry.
Poor Paul turned a pale shade of grey when I walked into their restaurant, Juniors, on a quiet Monday night, accompanied by Weekend's restaurant reviewer, the much loved, much missed Paolo Tullio, plus we had chef/hotelier Kevin Dundon in tow.
Paul quickly recovered from the shock and we heard how, on alternate days, one of the brothers would have a sleep/siesta upstairs for an hour or two while the other one kept an eye on the café.
Juniors is a favourite of Brian O'Driscoll, Cian Healy and Devon Toner, and the brothers also opened Paulie's Pizza on Grand Canal Street, a favourite with rugby players for a post-match pizza.
With the opening of Lotts & Co on South Lotts Road, you could be cheek by jowl with the rugby boys, dinner party hostesses wanting beef from Pat McLoughlin, and the Google execs from around the corner who can't get enough of cheeses from Sheridans, and breads from the Bretzel Bakery.
Four food businesses in a tight triangle - they'll have to rename the area D4F!