Roz turns 50 and returns to the golden age of spending
Roz Flanagan makes a virtue of hiding neither her wealth nor her luxurious lifestyle, says Barry Egan
ONCE upon a time, the boomtown Irish were unafraid to spend the money they had. And unafraid to be seen enjoying the fruits of their wealth (private jets, James Bond-like yachts, parties straight out of The Great Gatsby).
But now we are in the dense black cloud of economic doom and gloom, the rich are frightened to be seen – or heard – enjoying themselves or their dough.
Roz Flanagan, star of TV3's one-time hit reality telly Dublin Wives, is not one of those people, thankfully. You can hear her before you see her in the bar of The Shelbourne hotel. The champagne pulsing through her veins from a lunch earlier that day in Ireland's only two-star Michelin restaurant, Patrick Guilbaud's in The Merrion Hotel, is soon added to by one and two and then three Cosmopolitan cocktails, at more than €12 a pop.
"I love my life," she tells me, and it was hard to disagree with her.
As well as celebrating her 50th birthday, Armagh-born Roz is seemingly trying to launch Ireland back into the golden age of spend-spend-spend. And you have to admire her for it.
Unafraid of seeming flash, she has a sparkle like that of her expensive drinks. She makes a virtue of hiding neither her wealth nor her luxurious lifestyle. As she makes short work of her Cosmos with her friends – fellow Dublin Wives co-star, the gorgeous Virginia Macari, and Jeanette Sung, glamorous owner of Roz's favourite restaurant, Silk's in Malahide – Roz appears to be mounting a one-woman campaign for a post-recession Dublin awash with money.
The mother of four lives in a virtual palace in Abington in Malahide with her husband of almost 30 years, Monaghan businessman Vincent Flanagan. They also have a suitably bling bolthole in Marbella.
This birthday celebration tonight in The Shelbourne was but part of an ongoing celebration that began (where else?) in the aforementioned Marbella.
Roz had a birthday bash on August 25 in southern Spain. The bar bill alone for her hooley in the Ocean Club in Marbella was €12,000. This makes the "Lapgate" bar bill – an alleged €1,440 – in the Dail in July look like a few cans after work by comparison.
Over 30 bottles of vintage Dom Perignon and Ace Of Spades champagne and Roberto Cavalli vodka were dispatched in and around the pool area of this exclusive club in Marbs.
In the Shelbourne on Tuesday, Roz was Googling Ace Of Spades champagne and Robert Cavalli vodka on her phone to show me pics, before exclaiming that she "sprayed so many bottles of champagne it was unbelievable". (There was also a dinner in Villa Tiberio on the famous Marbella Golden Mile the night before.)
"I can't believe how many bottles of champagne we sprayed!" she laughs.
"People can't pay their gas bills in Ireland and Roz is talking about spraying €500 bottles of champagne at pool parties in Marbella. There's really no one like her. She is one in a million," her VBF Virginia Macari said.
Roz also showed me pictures of the party, saying how she loves life and loves to enjoy herself.
"I am 50 and I have never been happier in my life. I love life. I love living. I love my husband and my children. Life is about living."
The birthday cake was in the shape of a Brown Thomas bag. Roz said she bought a €2,500 Roberto Cavalli outfit to wear to the party. "I love fashion!"
Trevor White wrote in a 2003 essay on Posh Ireland: Showing It And Blowing It: "We're abandoning God and embracing Gucci." You can add Cavalli to that now.
"I love life," Roz said Googling pics of Cavalli dresses to show me.
"I don't feel 50. I love my life too much to ever feel my age," she added, sipping her Cosmo.
"I have to thank my amazing husband so much for organising my party and making it happen, making it so brilliant."
A 12 grand-plus booze bill, it has to be said, is not exactly Sean Dunne splashing out €1.5m on Aristotle Onassis's yacht, the Christina O, for a week to celebrate his wedding to Gayle Killilea in July 2004. So let's not sit in judgement, stewing in spite that Roz has more money than us and knows how to spend it, okay?
Since the recession, the reputation of the flash female bon vivant in Ireland has shrunk and faded, like some 'dry-clean only' designer dress put in the wash by accident. Roz Flanagan is doing her utmost to change that.
You can say that again. And again. Roz is having another party this Saturday night in House on Leeson Street – everyone from Virginia Macari and her partner Kas to Claire Ronan, Claudine Keane and Jeanette Sung is expected, among 50 others.
"It is just champagne and nibbles. It is for all my friends who couldn't make it to my party in Marbella," Roz explains. "It is my never-ending party!"
As I left the Shelbourne last week, I had the words of Spike Milligan ringing in my head: "All I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy."