Lifestyle

Tuesday 22 July 2014

The couples who made 2013

Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy
Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy

It seems the old saying may be true after all — two heads really are better than one. At least it seems that way, as we recall the celebrity couples who have dealt with either of the twin imposters of triumph and disaster, and those who have inspired us, through the year

Social: Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy, Virginia Macari and Kas, Martina and Robbie Fox

Like twin paragons of panto -- "oh no they aren't! Oh yes they are!" -- Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy kept us on our toes all year with a fairly regular round of relationship make-up-break-ups. On again, off again until a life-threatening illness caused by an insect bite for Gerald focussed their minds.

Right now, systems are go, but still no wedding date has been set. However, perhaps they will be inspired by Lisa's fellow Dublin Housewives star, Virginia Macari, who plans to marry long-time beau Kas Dahl on the island of Capri next June.

Kas dropped to one knee on a trip to New York last summer, at which point many women would have gone straight into Bridezilla mode, but not Virginia. "We are both very laidback, so I am not too worried about it. It is just a celebration, a holiday then for our friends and family."

If adversity is the glue that binds (where love is a given), then Martina and Robbie Fox have weathered some testing but ultimately triumphant times recently.

The liquidation of the couple's businesses, including Renard's, in 2009, was a bitter time, but the last year has been "tough but successful", said Martina, whose husband describes her as "a beautiful, sensitive, extremely hard working woman. A great mum... innocent in an old-fashioned way".

Just the way every woman should be described by one man.

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Business: Gayle Killilea and Sean Dunne, Christine Connolly and Larry O'Mahony, Sean Quinn Jnr and Karen

WE all wonder, from time to time, what we are actually worth to our family and friends, and wish there was a system to incontrovertibly establish our value. Well, for Gayle Killilea, the wondering is long over. One hundred million euro is the price set upon her by husband Sean Dunne, after the couple married without a pre-nup in 2004 on board Aristotle Onassis's yacht.

Instead, the couple -- who have always gloried in demonstrating their wealth as well as their love -- struck a deal for one fifth of his assets, money he said he was happy to exchange in return for "love, affection and more children". Oh, and the odd shirt washed, too. These days, Gayle is the active property developer -- proving what everyone who knows her already knew, that she is smart as well as sassy -- while Dunne is beleaguered by bankruptcy battles.

But as a couple, they still recall what was said about Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel at their wedding -- "like hydrogen and nitrogen; explosive when combined".

For Christine Connolly, it was Justice George Birmingham who set a value on her lifestyle -- to whit €9,000 a month, for her, husband Larry O'Mahony (a former business partner of Priory Hall developer Thomas McFeely), and their three children.

Meanwhile, yet another put-upon casualty of the boom, Sean Quinn Jnr, has discovered welcome depths of steel below the glamorous surface of his wife, Karen, who has stood loyally by him during all recent travails. Prison visits, court moral support and stout stand-by-your-man attitude, all accompanied by a series of carefully-chosen outfits that made zero concession to recessionary drabness. The couple are now expecting their first baby, adding yet another chapter to the mesmerising, labyrinthine Quinn Family Saga.

 

Politics: Lucinda Creighton and Paul Bradford, Michael D and Sabina Higgins

"I have two very important men in my life -- one is my husband and the other is my Taoiseach. And I'm not going to try to cause a row with either of them." So said Lucinda Creighton back in June.

Well, we all know how that one ended. However, proving that there are many second -- and indeed further -- acts in political life, Lucinda first consolidated her position outside the Fine Gael camp with the Reform Alliance, then announced the happy news that she and husband, Senator Paul Bradford, are expecting their first child before next May's local and European elections.

Throughout the dog days of Lucinda's career with Fine Gael, Bradford was frequently to be found at her side, lending silent, solid support.

The unity of purpose that binds the couple will undoubtedly be challenged in the years ahead as Lucinda tries to do what many have found so difficult before her -- juggle motherhood with a political career -- but she has a husband who believes firmly that her contribution to society can only help.

Meanwhile, our President and his First Lady continue to present a tableau of stately partnership.

Where Michael D is eloquent, even mercurial, Sabina -- a former actress trained in the Stanislavsky method, who was one of the founders of the Focus Theatre -- maintains a discreet dignity. The pair are often seen holding hands and Michael D has described her as "somebody I regard as a rock, somebody who I would keep coming back to and whom I wouldn't have to be explaining myself to either".

Clearly, no impediment to that marriage of true minds.

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Sport: Amy Huberman and Brian O'Driscoll, George and Ingrid Hook, Cian Healy and Holly Carpenter

There are days when the gaiety of the nation seems to rest entirely on the slender shoulders of Amy Huberman and the considerably broader ones of husband Brian O'Driscoll. For his rugged but gentlemanly heroism on the pitch and earnest good manners off; for her sparkle, wit and indisputable niceness, they deserve to be the closest thing to a May Queen and King that we have.

This year, Amy inspired a few more cheers by rejecting the word WAG out of hand (and simultaneously sending a stream of hilarious tweets), while O'Driscoll's all-in performance against the All Blacks made a country full of grown men cry.

Being "the lovely Ingrid" to Newstalk's George Hook must be an occasionally cringe-worthy experience, but any suggestion of glibness in his constant evocation of her name and qualities disappears in the face of the odd highly emotional tribute: "But for her patience and strength, our lives could have turned out very differently," he said this year, when Ingrid retired as head of the school of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences at Trinity College. "I admire her incredibly. When I was a busted flush, Ingrid took it upon herself to keep the family going ... [she] probably saved my life." Being a muse is never easy, but Ingrid seems to both deserve it and handle it with aplomb.

Meanwhile, displaying a talent for mischief to rival Greek goddess Ate, or one of Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age heroines, Holly Carpenter recently set rugby-player boyfriend Cian Healy up, for TV show Foul Play, speculating that she would get coal for Christmas in return. They bought a dog together this year and clearly revel in each other's company, but Holly has laughed off suggestions of an engagement -- although she did hint that winter, for her, is the season of greatest romance.

 

Culinary: Ross and Jessica Lewis, Rachel and Isaac Allen -- Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi

It was a year that showed us just how complicated love can get, even when it starts out in a glow of optimism. Charles Saatchi looked like Nigella Lawson's knight in shining armour when the couple married following the death of Nigella's first husband, John Diamond.

But this year, the alliance of riches with glamour foundered completely, first amid allegations of domestic abuse, then drug abuse, and finally a bitter face-off in a court case.

Saatchi took the stand first, declaring himself "utterly heartbroken at having lost Nigella", who he still "adores". It was a piece of carefully orchestrated public soul-searching that Nigella was having none of, telling instead of a "long summer of bullying and abuse" at the hands of her ex-husband.

Closer to home, our own celebrity culinary couples have had a far more harmonious time of it. As Ross Lewis launched his stunning book Chapter One: An Irish Food Story, he made no bones about the contribution of his fabulous wife Jessica: "She is the keeper of the family, a never-ending source of guidance and love," he told me.

Meanwhile, our own Domestic Goddess Rachel Allen and husband Isaac demonstrated the adamantine quality of their marriage when they laughed off Rachel's surprise -- and erroneous -- appearance on a Dutch singles dating site.

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Music: Ronan Keating and Storm Uechtritz, Bono and Ali Hewson

Having weathered the storm of his break-up with wife Yvonne, Ronan Keating was commendably restrained about publicly parading his new love. However, 2013 was the year when he and Australian girlfriend Storm Uechtritz finally stepped into the light as a united front, accompanied by Ronan's three children with Yvonne.

The event was the Emeralds and Ivy ball, a cancer fundraiser hosted by Ronan, and the gang of five looked relaxed and happy with each other.

Which is just as well, given what appears to be the increased intensity of the romance between the couple. "Storm has taken me from a very dark hole to being very happy," said Ronan.

In the year that U2 manager Paul McGuinness announced his departure from the band, putting an end to what his charges described as "extraordinary leadership, guidance and friendship over the last 35 years", the remarkable longevity of the relationships within the group are worthy of notice, none more so than Bono's marriage to Ali. They recently travelled together to Pretoria, to Nelson Mandela's wake, demonstrating yet again the weight and depth of their bond. The best thing about Bono may indeed be Ali, but to his credit, he looks like he knows it.

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Irish Independent

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