Friday 28 October 2016

Society: Ireland Fund's inspiring ladies

Published 27/09/2015 | 02:30

Dr Rhona Mahony and Claire Byrne at Tiffaney Ireland Funds Lunch. Photo: Anthony Woods.
Dr Rhona Mahony and Claire Byrne at Tiffaney Ireland Funds Lunch. Photo: Anthony Woods.
Louise Kennedy, Loretta Brennan Glucksman and Sabina Higgins at the inaugural Tiffany Ireland Funds Lunch to honour inspiring women. Photo: Anthony Woods.
Avril Banneton and Martina McDermott
Katherine Mulrooney
Aisling O'Sullivan at the launch of John B Keane's Big Maggie at the Gaiety. Photo: Leon Farrell.
Sinead Gleeson
Senator Catherine Noone and Barry Flanagan at her fundraiser in Donnybrook. Photo: Paul Sherwood.
Amy Huberman at the Bord Gáis Energy Student Theatre awards launch. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan.

'I've got to get home to the two babies that you delivered," was Claire Byrne's farewell quip to Dr Rhona Mahony, master of Holles Street hospital, as she left Guilbaud's restaurant at the Merrion Hotel, with a giant bunch of fragrant flowers.

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Claire did a sterling job hosting the inaugural Tiffany Ireland Fund lunch to honour inspiring women and her first go at being an auctioneer, and getting the best price for donated prizes, was very impressive. Claire has a busy birthday month ahead too as her son, Patrick, turns two and her daughter, Jane, celebrates her first birthday.

The proceedings went with great aplomb and Claire looked fabulous in caramel tweed, dressed by Heidi Higgins, a fellow Portlaoise lady.

Leading US philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman received the inaugural Inspiring Women Award and made a very moving speech, leaving everyone spellbound. We also admired her beautiful outfit which was, she told me over lunch, by Valentino.

Former Chair of the American Funds for Ireland, Loretta was honoured for her work securing more than $300m for the foundation over her tenure of 17 years.

Our table was full of chat and the first lady, Sabina Higgins, was just two seats away. She told me all about her trip to the US and how she and her husband hoped to catch some theatre, including Donal O'Kelly, writer, actor and director who trained with the Focus Theatre in Dublin which Sabina helped found with Deirdre O'Connell. Accompanying her to the lunch was her good friend, Emmy-winning costume designer Joan Bergin. I chatted with Caitriona Fottrell, Vice President and Director, Ireland of the Irish Fund and with Melissa Jones from Tiffany who generously donated a T necklace to be auctioned.

Fresh from her successful AW15 show at the Merrion Square home, Louise Kennedy chatted with barrister Catherine Burke Kennedy and Stéphane Robin, restaurant manager who came to Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in 1986 for six months and is still here. He described to us their upcoming interiors changes. I suggested they might make a direct link to Louise's house nearby. She quipped: "Oh, I like the sound of that."

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton looked chic in a Moschino jacket, back in the clothes she put away when she got pregnant.

The raffle was well supported and sure didn't I win a four course tasting menu with wine for two at Guilbauds.

Now who will I bring??

Fusion of new ideas for the lovers of food

By Bairbre Power

Foodie purists were in ructions earlier this year over restaurants serving food on chopping boards, slates, and even shovels!

So how will the nation's food critics take to Taste City Fusion, the latest food festival from the team behind Taste of Dublin?

This time it is the venues that are a little off kilter, with a medieval banquet in the 12th century crypt of Christchurch Cathedral, and a smorgasbord of culinary delights across citywide landmarks like Smock Alley Theatre, Teeling's Distillery, and 10 Ormond Quay.

CityJet, which recently unveiled stylish new branding, is supporting the 'take-off' of the new city-based food festival. All festival and ticket details are to be found on

At the launch were CityJet's Avril Bannerton with Martina McDermott.

It's curtains up for Theatre Festival

By Kirsty Blake Knox

My gad, playwright Enda Walsh and David Bowie are some dream team.

The duos off-Broadway show Lazarus is due to start rehearsals in Manhattan next week.

Based on cult 70s film The Man who Fell to Earth it will feature a smattering of the Starman's greatest hits.

But before all that, Enda touched down in Dublin this week for the Irish premiere of his new opera The Last Hotel.

Walsh co-wrote the piece with acclaimed composer Donnacha Dennehy and it went down a storm.

The show is running as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival which kicked off at the Gaiety Theatre with the opening of Conor McPherson's The Night Alive.

"It's showtime!" Director Willie White said proudly on the red carpet.

The line up this year is eclectic to say the least with musicals about contraceptive trains, game shows, dancing on tables and a dash of Chekhov.

"It's the biggest festival yet," Willie said.

Gay Byrne, producer Anne Clarke and Michael Colgan all milled around the foyer of the theatre, leaving through the programme.

PR Guru Christine Monk talked about Lisa Lambe's stellar performance in Bill Whelan's new show The Train.

"Her voice is something else," she said. "But she is a Celtic Woman".

After the curtains fell, throngs gathered in the bar to congratulate Love/ Hate star Laurence Kinlan and Ian Lloyd Anderson.

The bar seemed strangely boisterous on Thursday night.

Earlier in the week, Garry Hyne's Druid Theatre Company and members of the Keane clan had gathered in the same venue to announce the return of acclaimed production Big Maggie.

"John B knew women," producer Caroline Downey said. "And he respected them."

It was a bittersweet gathering as thoughts turned to John's late wife Mary.

"It's a hugely emotional day," John B and Mary Keane's son Billy said. "The last time I was here I was with my mother for the opening of Moll.

"We didn't realise she was sick and as we walked to our seats she held my arm and said 'It's a full house John'. She thought I was John, she was talking to him, and letting him know that it was ok."

Seance in jacks keeps Maeve's spirit alive

By Kirsty Blake Knox

What better way to remember the late and great Maeve Brennan than having a séance in the jacks of the New Yorker?

Laureate for Irish Fiction Anne Enright did just that when visiting the Irish author's former workplace in 1998.

"She used to sleep in the restroom of the New Yorker," Enright explained.

"So when I visited, I went to the loo, had a look in the mirror and tried to find out if her ghost was still there."

Brennan's ghost may have failed to show but her spirit was definitely felt at the launch of Sinead Gleeson's new book The Long Gaze Back.

"It's an anthology of female writers and runs the gamut from heart-breaking to humorous," Gleeson said. John Kelly milled about the vintage inspired Liquor Rooms while Keelin Shanley braced herself for early morning starts.

"I'm moving to Morning Ireland in the next few weeks," Keelin explained.

"So there will be fewer late nights."

The Senator in  Fine Gael blue

By Bairbre Power

Dublin Senator and Fine Gael candidate for Dublin West, Catherine Noone, welcomed supporters and friends to a special fundraising dinner on Tuesday night at Marco Pierre White' Courtyard restaurant  in Donnybrook.

She was all dressed in a 'Fine Gael blue' dress by Synan O'Mahony, and was accompanied by her boyfriend Barry Flanagan, a tax advisor with Catherine's parents travelled from Mayo to support the official launch of her campaign to secure a seat for Fine Gael in Dublin West.

Nearly 200 people from the worlds of politics, business, the arts and fashion came along and enjoyed a reception and three-course meal while Minister for Finance Michael Noonan was guest speaker on the night. Ballet dancer Monica Loughman looked stunning in a short black dress.

Other guests included Dr Katherine Mulrooney who runs the Dr Mulrooney Clinic on Dublin's Northumberland Road with her sister Jane, where they have a busy client list for non-surgical cosmetic dermatology.

I also saw stylist Marietta Doran, Ashling Kilduff from the Design Centre, Eoghan Murphy, TD for Dublin South East, and legal eagles Garret Cooney, Killian Carty, Shelley Horan, Elaine Slattery and Dr Mona Joyce.

Corsets and kicks for Amy in Houdini drama

By Kirsty Blake Knox

Actress Amy Huberman is saying 'abracadabra' and taking a step back in time for her next TV role.

The mum-of-two will make a fleeting appearance in ITV's series Houdini and Doyle - which sees Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini team up to become a pair of super-sleuths.

"It's set in 1901 and I had to wear a corset, woollen skirt while filming in the summer," she said. "Which was an experience." Sounds it. It's been a hectic few months for Huberman, she just finished filming rugger bugger romp Handsome Devil alongside Ardal O'Hanlon and Andrew Scott and is currently shooting action flick The Fixer.

The feature film, required Huberman to fight baddies.

"I'm a goodie," she said at the launch of the third annual Bord Gáis Energy Student Theatre Awards.

As if that wasn't enough she is also finishing up her screen play Bolt. "Another draft," she shrugged.

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