The Edge: Grainne and Leon's wedding recce in South Africa and Louis tops up his tan
Time to buy a hat, ladies? RTE superstar Grainne Seoige is just back from South Africa on what could turn out to be a recce for her long-awaited wedding to her Durban-born fiance Leon Jordaan.
"Could be! You never know!" the gorgeous Gaeilgeoir said of her complex relationship with Leon, who she has been dating since October 2011. "We are very much enjoying being engaged, but who knows whether we will get married this year!" she laughed.
"He lives in South Africa and I live in Ireland. So it's the eternal conundrum for people who have long-distance relationships. How to get the Mountain to come to Muhammad? How to get all his family and friends and all my family and friends!
"But we'll get there in the end!" added the respected Crimecall presenter, who got engaged in November 2013.
Ever resourceful, Grainne and Leon kept it secret until April the following year when they revealed it exclusively to your columnist after they threw a surprise party for 150 friends in Lillies Bordello on Grafton Street: "Only our families and very close friends have known since November. We wanted time to enjoy it ourselves. When it is out there, it takes on a life of its own."
150 friends notwithstanding, Grainne and Leon were in South Africa for two weeks with a small gang of pals recently. "We went camping out in the bush. It was magical. We drank South African sparkling wine around a camp fire under the stars. There was no sky pollution and you could really see the stars."
"During the day we were privileged to watch the animals in their natural habitat. It was beyond words to be out in the middle of the bush with Leon and be part of all that. We would watch the sun go down over the Waterberg Mountain," she said of their romantic sojourn in north Limpopo Province in South Africa.
Indeed, my new VBF then sent your diarist a picture of the aforesaid experience, as you can see. In recognition of our new friendship. I'm putting myself at Grainne and Leon's disposal as a wedding planner. I'm thinking an intimate bush soiree overlooked by the Waterberg Mountain Range complete with al fresco dining and Grainne's sister Sile singing some songs with the locals.
Louis tops up tan with trip to Miami
It's no mystery where Louis Walsh's relatively new hair came from. (And by relatively new hair I don't mean he got it from a relative. He got his follicular fabulousness from the Hair Transplant Clinic Ireland in Blackrock.)
A few years ago, Louis's then co-worker on X Factor, Simon Cowell, came up to him and said - according to Louis - 'You're starting to lose your hair, dear'. To which, Louis replied: 'I am not, dear! And anyway, you're going grey!' Ouch.
Ironically, Louis was himself looking a bit grey around the gills himself of late. I can now solve the mystery of where the 63-year-old pop impresario defeated the greyness. He was in sunny Florida for a holiday last week and has just returned. Louis has a palatial pad on South Beach in Miami - it is so palatial that he makes frequent use of it. Indeed, Louis is going back to top up his tan at Easter. How do I know all this private information? Because Louis told me, dear.
"I've got a busy year," added The King of Kiltimagh, who has a new TV show airing in March. It is not a pop show, unless an engine in a car goes pop when it breaks down. "It's a car show!" confirmed Louis, who has been spending a lot of time in London recently (he always stays in The Kensington Hotel in South Ken. "It's a Doyle Hotel.")
Just for the many Louis Walsh spotters out there, I can reveal his favourite spots over there: The Wolseley in Piccadilly, the Ciprani in Davies Street, and, among many others, The Arts Club in Dover Street.
Louis Walsh would be a member of a members-only club founded by Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope, wouldn't he?
The hills are alive with the sound of Johnny Ronan
It's well known that Johnny Ronan likes a good ride. And so it proves. The titan of the Irish (and indeed international) property industry is currently in training for the Marmotte one-day race for amateur cyclists on the first Saturday in July. It starts in Bourg d'Oisans with the final climb, 174 kilometres later in Alpe d'Huez.
I won't make any jokes about Johnny's badger hairdo being well suited to a race that is named after the large ground squirrel that is known to inhabit the slopes of the aforesaid Alpe d'Huez.
Johnny is in training with his pal, Tour de France legend Sean Kelly. And with Kelly's help, he is clocking up distances of over 100 kilometres per sessions. Out of Nama. the boyo is back in the saddle, so.
I always said Johnny could ride for Ireland, or thereabouts, and now it's almost official. If he could only get his famous beard more aerodynamically trimmed then I'm sure the tycoon could go even longer and faster and more powerfully. On the bike, sillies. In any event, the hills will be alive with the sound of Johnny grunting and groaning in July.
Gay and Kathleen's heart-to-heart
Reinventing Groucho Marx's quote that he refuses to join any club that would have him as a member, Gay Byrne jokingly told me that he is now unwittingly, whether he likes it or not, part of an exclusive fraternity. "I get people telling me they have had seven or eight stents put in. I have only the one stent in!" chortled Gay (your diarist was waiting in vain for him to say he had a stent for everyone in the audience.) "I feel like I'm now a member of a private members club."
His heart attack on December 29 hasn't diminished Gay's spectacular joie de vivre. The national treasure (and his treasured wife of over 50 years, Kathleen) went to see The Danish Girl at the Screen in Dublin's city centre on Wednesday afternoon, having got the Dart in from their home in Ballsbridge. No doubt they had a heart-to-heart on the train. They were also went to see Brooklyn recently.
So the aforementioned stent hasn't stopped Gay and Kathleen's stints at the cinema. On advice from his medical team, Gay did, however, cancel his brace of theatre shows in February.
But with the spirit that propelled him through hosting 40 years of The Late Late Show, Gay has now rescheduled for March 25 at the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire and May 27 at the Mermaid in Bray. It is called Gay's One Man Show - and Woman.
"And," laughs Uncle Gay, "Kathleen happens to be the woman."
Captain Morgan caps great day in Dublin with Champagne
Those of you who read The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade, will, of course, be familiar with Piers Morgan's fondness, even fetish, for fancy vino. . .
One tale of a night on the tiles in London with fellow bon vivant Marco Pierre White went as follows: "There was the night [in 2010] that four of us drank £28,000 worth of wine, and I've still got the six bottles, all signed by Marco, including a 1911 Château d'Yquem pudding wine on which he wrote simply: '£1,500 a glass, love Marco.'"
It was Laurent-Perrier Champagne at a pure piddly €85 a bottle in Chapter One on Dublin's Parnell Square that Piers enjoyed last weekend.
He and three male pals (alas, Mr Pierre White was not among them: although he will be in Dublin to visit his two fine restaurants and his VBF Geraldine Fitzpatrick in a few weeks) were the toast of the restaurant last Saturday night, with captain Morgan signing autographs and going into the kitchen to meet uber-chef Ross Lewis and his crew.
The controversial former editor of The Mirror turned TV star was in Dublin to watch his son play rugby that Saturday afternoon.
Piers came in at 7pm and presumably had a very good evening in the Michelin-starred restaurant because he didn't leave until after midnight. Chapter One's (maître d' and co-proprietor with Ross) Martin Corbett was possibly almost as happy as an event that happened in his swish eaterie on Christmas Eve. His daughter Cherry got engaged.
Earlier that morning Cherry's boyfriend Pauric Quinn came in and asked Martin for his daughter's tender hand in marriage. Later that evening the happy couple came in for dinner. And at perhaps a well-choreographed moment he dropped to one knee and made his proposal.
Doubtless Martin produced a bottle of Laurent-Perrier - whatever about 1911 Château d'Yquem at £1,500 a glass - to mark the occasion.
Stars help the nation beat those dreaded post-Christmas blues
It's usually quiet after the GBH-of-the-liver that is Christmas in Ireland. This deathly calm in January is invariably marked by tumble-weeds blowing boisterously through Dublin's more popular establishments.
Mercifully, some of the country's glamouratti were bucking the trend last weekend. . .
RTE's Kathryn Thomas was in Suesey Street restaurant on Fitzwilliam Place for lunch with some pals last Saturday.
Later that evening around the corner on Lower Baggot Street in Xico, Bressie was with Declan Murphy, drummer in The Blizzards, and friends for tacos and drinks. They stayed until late.
Model-of-the-moment Nadia Forde was also in with her rugger boyfriend Dominic Day and Rhys Williams for drinks that night, as was Leinster winger Luke Fitzgerald with some pals.
Up the road on Grafton Street in Lillie's Bordello nightclub on Saturday night too, a motley crew was assembled. Cecelia Ahern, Yvonne Connolly, Red Rock duo Adam Weafer and David Crowley - to say nothing of Love/Hate's Laurence Kinlan who was out marking his Best Supporting actor nomination for his role as Doc in the Dublin Theatre Festival/Lyric Theatre production of Conor McPherson's The Night Alive.
The night was certainly alive in Lillies.
Laurence was also in 37 on Dawson Street on Saturday with fellow thesp Domhnall Gleeson.
In the same hotspot on Friday night - and which probably caused the biggest buzz of the weekend - were EastEnders' demi-gods Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, aka Alfie and Kat,
The two soap superstars posed for selfies with 37 customers and enjoyed cocktails until late, like they were in the Queen Vic in Albert Square
And why not?
Sunday Indo Living