We may be down, but we're not out. The effervescent spirit of joie de vivre that I've witnessed over the past 10 days as Ireland swung with gusto into party mode, showed that we have resilience, bravery and energy in spades. As someone should have said, when the going gets tough, the tough get partying.
Bono (who else?) kicked off the Crimbo party season in style last weekend at the Horslips gig in the Olympia (as I did) and on Saturday night, he threw a brilliant beano in the Royal Hibernian Club for U2 stylist Sharon Blankson's 50th birthday. It went on until 6am. "They danced all night," my U2 Deep Throat told me.
On the following night, Bono was out again – this time with the trusty Simon Carmody Community in Lillie's Bordello, together with Guggi and John Rocha. The designer's daughter, the lovely Zoe, had a party in London on Friday night with her fiance Matt Tester and pals. "And then my mum, Colm, and brother and sister are coming over for Christmas. Need a holiday after that!" film-maker Zoe told me.
On Thursday night, U2's ageless drummer Larry Mullen had a dinner in Pasta Fresca on Chatham Street with his long-term partner Ann Acheson and family. How do I know? I was in the eaterie too.
Meanwhile, the party spirit was inexhaustible. Lorraine Keane and pop-star husband Peter Devlin had dinner in l'Ecrivain on Friday and are heading back there tomorrow with a gang of 20 friends: among them Dylan and Charlotte Bradshaw, Barry McCall and Kari Rocca, Tony Fenton and girlfriend Sinead, Norah Casey and, doubtless, L'Ecrivain's glam doyennne Sallyanne Clarke will join them. Alison Doody had a Christmas party in Chapter One restaurant on last Saturday night with a gang of her suitably gorgeous girlfriends.
Actress Jeananne Crowley had a birthday dinner in the restaurant on Tuesday night, while thespian-turned-barrister Virginia Cole was celebrating her birthday with a dinner in The Trocadero.
On Tuesday, your trusty diarist met Michael Colgan in Town Bar & Grill, lunching with three fine actresses – his ex wife Susan Fitzgerald, Penelope Wilton (aka Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey) and Hannah Yelland (star of My Cousin Rachel at the Gate for Christmas.) Michael and Susan told me their daughter Sophie is getting married in Marlfield House on January 4 to Cameron Richardson. "I'm hosting a party in the Unicorn for them and all their friends before the wedding," Colgan said.
Two people who won't sadly be having a wedding of their own are Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy. In the spirit of Christmas, I tried to effect a secret reconciliation between Gerald and Lisa without either of them knowing. But – perhaps like the couple themselves – it wasn't to be. I had arranged to meet Gerald in the Shelbourne at 7.30pm on Wednesday and without telling him or the former object of his devotion, I had also arranged to meet Lisa (and Jo Jordan and Virginia Macari) there at roughly the same time.
At the appointed time, Gerald, who had been enjoying himself in Residence across the road since 5pm turned up, but alas, Lisa texted to say she was going to babysit Jo's son Josh, who'll be nine tomorrow. Lisa and Jo are flying to Miami on Saturday for a week. Prior that, Lisa will have Christmas Day dinner in her parents' home in Dundrum, while Gerald will be spending part of the big day with his teenage daughter Kirsten at his brother Richard and wife Barbara's house in Killiney along with his sister Adrienne. He will be bringing Kirsten to Old Trafford on Stephen's Day to watch Manchester United play Newcastle. Then he's off to the Aslan concert at Vicar Street before flying out to Portugal on the Saturday for a golfing week with some male friends, Padraic Hanley, who owns Ouzo's in Blackrock, among them. Saturday the 29th is the same day that Lisa and Jo are flying out to Miami. Maybe they'll meet at Dublin airport and get back together for the New Year? The nation could do with some gaiety in a cold, joyless January.
All that was missing on Wednesday evening in the Shelbourne was Anne Doyle and Dan McGrattan. I rang The Doyler. She was in Carlow, having festive drinkies with her VBF Bridie. She will be having Christmas lunch at home in Dublin with dapper Dan and all the grandchildren, she told me.
I bumped into Ireland's top model Georgia Salpa in the lobby of the Shelbourne. She is spending Christmas in Dublin before joining her beau in London next week. Another top model, Kristi Kuudisiim, told me she's going home to Estonia for Christmas. Her ex, Daryl Downey, was also in the Shelbourne that night, albeit at another part of the packed bar. Yet another top model, Alison Canavan, arrived with her sister Laura. Jo Jordan pitched up in the tightest leather pants imaginable with her co-stars in Dublin Housewives, Roz Flanagan and Virginia Macari. "This will be our first Christmas together with baby Thor for Kas and I," Virginia told me, adding that Kas's two daughters, Jeanelle and Thea, are also spending Christmas with them in their penthouse in Spencer Dock.
At 10pm, we all repaired to the Dublin Housewives' Christmas party at Harry's On The Green. One of the producers of the TV3 show, John Norton, was there with his beautiful actress girlfriend Vivienne Connolly, ex-wife of Mark Dunne, Ben's son. "I'm going home to Carlow for Christmas for a few days then back up to Castleknock," she told me. When I went back to The Shelbourne, actor Stephen Rea was having dinner in the restaurant and the bar was like the last days of the Weimar Republic.
Christmas is, of course, as much about those who are no longer with us as those who are. I used to bump into Gerry Ryan in the Shelbourne every year, without fail. The Horseshoe Bar is just not the same any more without him. I texted the beautiful Morah Ryan – who was in the Town Bar and Grill on Thursday – whether she was cooking the turkey this year, her lovely reply said it all for me about the yuletide: "No, Rex is, and the duck and the goose, like his dad. Wishing you all that's golden this Christmas. Best wishes from all the Ryans. God bless you and yours."
You too, Morah. And Gerry – wherever you are.