Friday 22 September 2017

Andrea and PJ's celebrity marriage ends without glare of publicity

Some marriages end silently -- without any reason the world would understand, writes Anne Harris

SPLIT: The marriage of Andrea Roche and PJ Mansfield
SPLIT: The marriage of Andrea Roche and PJ Mansfield

Former Miss Ireland Andrea Roche's marriage to businessman PJ Mansfield is over.

Some marriages end silently. That is not to say they end in silence. Far from it. They end quietly, imperceptibly with no reason the world would understand. Sometimes with little reason the people concerned understand. It's tough, it's sad and in a civilised world it's nobody's business but their's.

When a national celebrity's marriage ends in this way, this is rarely the case. Andrea Roche meets the criteria of Irish celebrity under many headings. Since she became Miss Ireland in 1998 she has regularly topped polls as one of Ireland's most beautiful and stylish women. She dated pop star Jim Corr before she met Mansfield.

Naturally, the media scrabble around desperately for some rationale, as though the public (who certainly feel some entitlement in the lives of their celebs) could not understand the emotional subtleties of a relationship changing, if not necessarily dying.

But sometimes there is no meat to be put on the bare bones of an ordinary human tragedy.

Andrea Roche's marriage is over. It ended a few months ago. Roche moved out and now lives alone. The decision was hers. To say both of them are hurting is a given. As is the fact that the separation is amicable and characterised by a mutual respect.

This sort of marriage break-up information imparted in the media usually unleashes a flood of chatty and informative 'friends' with special access, who volunteer all sorts of reasons. And if you live a lot of your life in the public eye, reasons can always be found.

But the real reason in this case is as simple as it is banal. They grew apart. They had been together for about nine years. Their bond was the tenderest kind, formed in youth before either of them were fully formed as personalities.

The marriage of the former Miss Ireland and the youngest child of property developer Jim Mansfield in 2006 was the stuff of dreams -- even in a world of dream weddings as Ireland was in Celtic Tiger days. Their big day was in Saggart Church in August 2006, and every last tiny detail was reported in the press and in VIP magazine, The dress was by Monique L'huillier, the reception in a marquee in Palmerstown House, which is part of the Mansfields' property empire. She was 28.

Some cynics thought that having achieved the big fat wedding, Ms Roche would sit back and enjoy the privileges of being a socialite wife. But it is her brain, rather than her beauty that has always driven her.

Having won Miss Ireland and had a successful career as a model, Andrea Roche pioneered a new path for Irish beauties by becoming a businesswoman herself (she had studied business in Carlow). As well as being the face of Newbridge Silverware, she became involved in organising pageants herself, first the Miss Ireland pageant and then the Miss Universe Ireland.

She appears frequently on television, including fashion presenting on TV3. She had a very successful stint on RTE's Celebrity Bainisteoir. She is beauty editor of VIP magazine and fashion editor of South East Wedding magazine and is a wedding fair planner. And when her close friend Katy French died, she and Andrea were filming a pilot for a model agent show, a project Andrea is still intending to see through.

In short, she has always worked hard to earn her own money.

In a week in which another beautiful, successful, iconic young woman ended her marriage and had no reasons to give, it's well to remember that the heart has its reasons which reason cannot know.

It was poet Rainer Maria Rilke who said "convention has tried to make this most complicated and ultimate relationship (marriage) into something easy and frivolous." Andrea Roche, like Kate Winslet, has refused to bow to convention.

Sunday Independent

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