Society: Celebs flock to Roly's class act...
With the Galway Races coming up next week, you'd think I'd be staying at home at night, nibbling crackers and avoiding calories in order to fit into The Dress.
However, that's not happening because the Dublin social scene is so lively at the moment. And dining out, you never know who you are going to bump into and what you discover about your dinner neighbours.
Take Alison Comyn, for example. I met her at Roly's Bistro in Ballsbridge as the owners, Angela and John O'Sullivan, introduced us to classic dishes prepared by Chef de Cuisine Paul Cartwright.
The UTV Ireland newscaster starts her day at 6.30am with her two kids and she takes a one-hour nap during the day and after the 10pm news broadcast, she's home for midnight. How does she look so good keeping those hours? Must be in the family genes because her brother, Paddy Comyn, has written his second children's book this year.
Brent Pope who was sitting on the other side of me for dinner was, naturally, wearing one of the striped numbers from his own shirt brand which has been a singular success at Arnotts in Henry Street.
As the next edition of Lineout magazine is coming up shortly, I kept my editor's hat on and enjoyed the chat between George Hook and Brent and the banter about our chances at the World Cup were flying back and forth.
George was accompanied by his charming wife Ingrid, who is chairman of the RDS Science & Technology committee.
Angela and John O'Sullivan were in great form, as earlier in the week, John celebrated his birthday at Roly's and was serenaded by the lovely soprano, Celine Byrne.
Angela's brother, Declan Hoctor, had flown in from Florida, where he runs Roly's popular sister restaurant The Bistro in Jupiter which is home sweet home for Brendan Grace.
Declan encouraged guests on the night to pop in to savour some of his own classic dishes when next stateside.
Publisher Norah Casey was joined by her sister Carissa and Alan Hughes from Ireland AM was beyond excited at the prospect of heading off the next day to London to see Bette Midler, which was all arranged by Rory Cowan of Mrs Brown's Boys fame. Derek Mooney told me his radio show will be moving to Saturdays in September.
Pierce has licence to thrill on anniversary
By Barbara Power
I suspect Pierce Brosnan might take a little trip down to Ashford Castle while he is over in Ireland filming his latest movie.
But even James Bond might have a problem because Ashford are running at almost 100pc occupancy following the recently €50m-plus restoration by Red Carnation Hotel Collection.
There were big celebrations this month after the iconic castle - which sits straddling counties Mayo and Galway - was appointed number three in the Top 100 Hotels in the World by Travel + Leisure, the prestigious New York travel publication in their World's Best Awards 2015.
Pierce and Keely Shaye Smith's wedding celebrations were there on the scenic lawns on August 4, 2001, so with their 14th anniversary coming up, he may want to fly her over, for old time's sake.
Real estate broker Fredrik Eklund, who stars in top American reality show Million Dollar Listing New York, and is author of New York Times' best-selling book The Sell, was staying there recently. The flamboyant Swede was waxing lyrical on social media to his over 120,000 followers about Ireland. He was there to attend a friend's wedding with his husband Derek.
Theatre Festival delivers sucker punch
By Kirsty Blake Knox
It's been an eventful old week for Ireland's luvvies. First, the Abbey Theatre appointed not one, but two shiny new directors. And then, the Dublin Theatre Festival unveiled it's 2015 programme.
And it looks like this year's line-up is going to be something of a knock-out, with Enda Walsh debuting his new opera The Last Hotel and world boxing champ Andy Lee making his theatrical debut.
Lee will star in Chekhov's First Play just six days after going head to head with Billy Joe Saunders at Thomond Park.
Fingers crossed he doesn't end up with a shiner.
According to the show's director, Bush Moukarzel, Andy is a natural on stage.
"He's a knock-out but I really cast him so he could help me with my right hook and get the whole cast in shape," he joked. At least, I think it was a joke.
The launch was packed with leading ladies and gents waltzing around Dublin's CHQ building.
TV presenter Lorraine Keane and her husband Peter Devlin mingled with actor Don Wycherley and Eugene Downes of Kilkenny Arts Festival.
Phillip McMahon arrived with his pet pooch Henry in tow, while Willie White was beaming as he leafed through the programme pointing out favourites.
Laurence Kinlan will appear in Conor McPherson's dark drama The Night Alive alongside Kate Brennan - of the Brennan acting clan. "Growing up in a house filled with actors can be a little dramatic," she laughed.
Lisa Lambe and Kate Gilmore belted out some tracks from Riverdance creator Bill Whelan's new musical Train.
I was pleased to hear former Love/ Hate star Peter Coonan will return to the stage for the Gate Theatre's production of The Night Alive.
"It's going to be a great show," Director of The Gate Michael Colgan said. "Classic Miller - what more could you want?"
Colin Murphy was full of chat about his new show Bailed Out! which picks up where banking drama Guaranteed left off.
"It's a big, bold, vibrant smorgasbord of theatrical treats," Willie White said.
Morning mojo boost is just the tonic...
By Kirsty Blake Knox
What better way to start your day than a mojo-boosting massage session?
Having travelled the length and breadth of Injah, expert yogi, Sinead Duffy, was delighted to launch her Yogandha aromatherapy oils in Harvey Nicks on an overcast Wednesday.
Model of the moment Teo Sutra and make-up artist Searon McGratten swear by the stuff. "I recommend the detox for hangovers," Sinead said knowingly.
Oh dear. The previous night had been a late one I'm afraid. Paul Murray launched his new book Mark and the Void in Nick Munier's restaurant Avenue and the place was teaming with literati.
Sebastian Barry cut a dash in an oriental silk jacket while Declan Hughes and Roddy Doyle discussed Roy Keane.
"I'm team Roy all the way," Doyle said.
I bumped into Paul on the stairs who described the book as "Trains, Planes and Automobiles set in the Irish financial centre." How's that for an elevator pitch?
Everything's rosy with new cocktail
By Bairbre Power
There was a great turnout on Wednesday to celebrate the launch of Balfes' Craft Cocktail Collection in the creative quarter.
Balfes, which opened at the entrance to the Westbury Hotel last year, have created five new cocktails. The creamy Avocolado, made with ripe avocado, went down a treat with the guests, but my favourite was the Malika, which restaurant manager, David Murray, told me was inspired by the French artist whose work is showcased in Balfes. It contains home-made rose petal syrup with vodka and lychee and garnished with a rose petal.
I chatted with Pat King, CEO of The Doyle Collection, and the Westbury Hotel's gorgeous marketing whizz, Sophie Governey. We chatted weddings as she is tying the knot in a few weeks.
I spotted actor Gary Whelan who used to own Whelan's pub where, as it happens, Ed Sheeran was singing his heart out around the corner from us as we sipped cocktails.
I also bumped into Clyde Carroll from DublinTown who sweet-talked me into judging the Canon Young Fashion Photographer of the Year competition, which is being held in conjunction with Dublin Fashion Festival which runs September 7-13.
My co-judges will be top fashion photographer Barry McCall and Jonothan Sultan, marketing manager of Canon Ireland. The closing date is August 20 and the winner will be announced September 9.
Happy Days for Rosaleen after travel trauma
By Kirsty Blake Knox
So much for travelling in style. Comedienne and actress Rosaleen Linehan hurtled around the globe in a rubbish bin.
"But it was all in the name of art," she clarifies. "I was playing Nell in Endgame."
Linehan has since ditched the garbage can and is now performing in Samuel Beckett's All That Fall at Enniskillen's Happy Days festival.
"It's my first time performing here," Linehan said. "I used to stop in Enniskillen en route to Donegal - to get the good, cheap wine in Dunnes - but this is the first time I've been here in an artistic capacity. "
Benedict Cumberbatch's wife Sophie Hunter will also attend the festival, showcasing Benjamin Britten's Phaedra. "I'd rather see Benedict than Phaedra," Rosaleen admitted. "Perhaps she'll bring him."
BAFTA winner Stephen Rae will also attend to chat about Beckett's favourite actor Jack MacGowran.
"It will be a great jolly altogether," Linehan said.