Tuesday 27 September 2016

Ambassador's guest list like a who's who of high society

Published 20/03/2016 | 02:30

INVITATIONS: Ambassador’s guests included Terry and Helen Wogan. Photo: Reuters
INVITATIONS: Ambassador’s guests included Terry and Helen Wogan. Photo: Reuters
INVITATIONS: Ambassador’s guests included actress Fiona Shaw. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney

"The Ambassador of Ireland, Mr Daniel Mulhall, requests the pleasure of the company of..."

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The invitations all start the same, but the guest lists for bashes at the Irish Embassy in London, are a diverse who's who array of British and Irish high society.

Built in the 1860s, the mansion housing the Irish Embassy on Grosvenor Place overlooks the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

Perhaps the most exclusive event of recent times was a September 2014 dinner celebrating the Ambassador's first year in the post. Invited were the late BBC presenter Sir Terry Wogan and Lady Helen Wogan, along with actors Angeline Ball from The Commitments.

Airline boss Willie Walsh was among a number of high-profile businessmen on the list as was Austrian princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg. The guests were served roast rack of Irish lamb.

Celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin, BBC 6 Radio presenter and former Catatonia singer Cerys Matthews and MPs Ivan Lewis and Mike Kane were on a guest list for a networking dinner last July.

Other distinguished invitees to events include Graham Norton and Fiona Shaw from the Harry Potter movies, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, Home Secretary Theresa May and Jonathan Powell - a former advisor to Tony Blair.

Last year saw six events relating to St Patrick's Day hosted at the embassy, including one for law-enforcement officials.

The Department of Foreign Affairs declined to release the guests' names, saying the fact that they work in security isn't necessarily public knowledge and doing so could risk their safety. IT confirmed that a similar event was held this year.

In December 2014, the embassy held a dinner to mark an exhibition organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

The department confirmed that Lodge representatives attended, but didn't release the names, given the sensitivity of relationships in the North.

"The fact in itself of having agreed to attend this dinner might adversely affect the security of the State or Northern Ireland," it said.

The embassy spent more than €50,000 on catering for dozens of social functions over the course of 12 months to September 2015, although it recouped some of the costs for three events.

Sunday Independent

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