'The two of them are just heartbroken. Sometimes the flame just goes out'
Jo Jordan tells Barry Egan that providing shelter and a consoling shoulder is the least she can do for Lisa Murphy
THE woman to whom Lisa Murphy turned after her split from Gerald Kean last month has spoken for the first time about the situation, which has seen the socialite move into her house in Castleknock.
Jo Jordan, Lisa's co-star on TV3's Dublin Housewives, broke her silence on Friday to reveal to the Sunday Independent that: "Lisa is very, very raw at the moment. She is in a good place but she is not jumping around like Mary Poppins. It was just building and building, whatever it was that was inside her and, you know..." Jo said in reference to the split.
"There is no third party or anything like that but sometimes the flame just goes out."
Contrary to some reports, Jo and the rest of the Dublin Housewives are not Team Lisa. In fact, Jo said that she was conflicted at the moment, because Kean is her solicitor.
"I love Gerald. I love Lisa," she told me. "They have both been there for me when I was down. They picked me up. So, it is very very hard when I'm sandwiched between. It is terrible when it is two people that you love. Two of my friends that really got me through an awkward situation. I don't want to turn my back on them. You don't want to turn it into a soap story either."
I asked Jo how Gerald and Lisa are at the moment. (Neither is speaking to the press – on or off the record. All Gerald would say to me yesterday when I caught him on the hop was: "Lisa is a wonderful woman. I am not saying any more than that.").
"The two of them are heartbroken," Jo said. "I don't really want to get into it other than to say that they are two great people. What is meant for them won't pass them by. I said to her: 'Do what Lisa Murphy needs to do. Don't worry about anyone else.' I'd say the exact same to Gerald. 'Do what Gerald needs to do.'
Close friends believe that this isn't merely a time-out for Lisa Murphy while she takes stock of what to do about the future with her one-time fiance Gerald; rather that it is over and for good, and there is no going back for the famous blonde who was also once engaged to Michael Flatley.
Jo added that when she was going through her own emotional difficulties over her marriage break-up, she confided in Lisa and a bond grew. So when Lisa broke up with Gerald a few days after the October bank holiday weekend, Jo's place in Castleknock seemed like the obvious place to go.
"I started to talk to Lisa when things went bad for me because I was half the woman I was. 'What will I do?' Then I told her that my door was always open to her. She stayed with me an odd night. She minds Josh an awful lot with me, babysits," Jo, the beautiful star of Dublin Houswives, says referring to her eight-year-old son.
"She said she was going to stay on for a while and then she told me basically. She said she wasn't ready to talk and the less I know the f**king better," Jo chuckled.
I asked Jo the question many of us, whether we like to admit it or not, are interested in: how is Lisa feeling?
"She is in good form," Jo replied. "She is just obviously keeping herself busy. Her brother has a new baby so she has been occupied with that. She is just kind of concentrating on her family as well. We are in and out of town. We are looking at new ventures together. We are in negotiations and talking to our producers at TV3 and then there's stuff for next year."
She and Lisa are appearing next Saturday night in Cork at a charity night in aid of cancer called The Girls Club. "We are doing an awful lot for cancer, because cancer is a big thing for both of us." Jo's mother Linda is just over cancer and Lisa's mum Eileen had breast cancer.
In terms of Jo and Lisa's routine at home in Castleknock, Jo said that they usually "watch the soaps and we watch I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. But then there are some nights where Lisa will be over in her mum's. I'm obviously doing the homework with Josh and then Lisa will come in [and] do Josh's homework with him. Then she plays an awful lot of the game Jenga with Josh," Jo said. "She's good at the oul' cooking and she's great at the oul' cleaning. She cooked a beautiful chicken wrap for me the other day and meatballs."
I joke that she and Lisa sound like a very glamorous couple. "Ah, I don't know about that," laughed Jo. "We're a pair of Marigolds. We're not the Mae West.
"Lisa keeps her cards very close to her chest," Jo added. "I wear my heart on my sleeve. She has never said a bad word about Gerald or Michael Flatley. She is a private person. When she wants to talk, she will. But she is concerned about Gerald."
There are no immediate plans for Lisa (and Jo) in terms of Christmas other than getting through it. Jo's son Josh's ninth birthday is on Christmas Eve; she and Lisa are preparing for that. Jo has been living in the house in Castleknock for six months and is currently trying to buy it. She has no idea, she says, how long Lisa plans to stay.
They are launching a new make-up range 'LisaJolie' ("it's like Mac") in the new year. "We were supposed to be launching it for Christmas, but with finances are going to hold off until the new year."
They are also planning to design 40 dresses themselves in early 2013. Lisa is 40 and it is Jo's 40th in February. They are organising a fashion show for February 24, the night before Jo turns 40, to unveil the new line of dresses. "Lisa can't wait for 2013," Jo said.
Jo and Lisa's co-star on Dublin Housewives, Virginia Macari, told me yesterday: "I spoke to her last week and the week before. She is happy, in a good place. She told me that she has never been so happy and looking forward to the next chapter in her life. She definitely seemed like she had a tension lifted. I am happy for her. It is none of my business, but somehow I doubt that they will get back together."
Gerald, who normally sings like a canary to the media, is keeping schtum and going to private members' club Residence with pals on Friday night. He emailed me on Thursday evening to say he was hosting a night "with Aslan, live on stage" in aid of the Ross Nugent Foundation at his home in Wicklow, on December 13. Perhaps only Gerald Kean could be organising Aslan concerts at his home in the midst of such a high-profile break-up.
How will the break-up affect Lisa's involvement in her spa in Sandycove? God knows what is going through Lisa Murphy's head right now. All I know is there seems to be a massive amount of sympathy out there for her. As for those po-faced misogynists who laugh at her? I hear Lisa rises above the jibes about her. After all, she has lived in Dublin for a good few years. I am sure she is not unacquainted with what Yeats called "the daily spite of that unmannerly town".
Still, you wonder how it came to this sorry pass. I remember being on jets with them (to Marbella and to Kerry and beyond) and how much in love they seemed. In truth, I felt the same about Gerald and his then-wife Clodagh Kean when I travelled on the same private jets with them, but that's life.
I recall Gerald's big birthday party in the Ritz Carlton in 2007 and what a lark it was. He was dressed as Louis XVI and Lisa as Maire Antoinette in a designer dress pulled so tight you had to wonder how she could breathe properly. Or maybe, when you are Lisa Murphy, you breathe a rarefied air anyway.
I remember asking Gerald that night what Lisa had bought him for his birthday. "I haven't got it yet," he smiled, before laughing uproariously. "She's giving it to me tonight!"
Later, on the dance floor, Lady Lisa appeared and seemed to contradict King Kean's story: "I got him a diamond encrusted cross and several other presents that I won't go into," she winked. "He got totally spoiled." That seems like the crux of it perhaps. Lisa spoiled him.
"What will happen is that we'll announce that it's happening, and then it will happen a month later," she told Sarah Caden in LIFE Magazine in late August referring to her wedding to Gerald, saying that she wanted a small wedding but Gerald wanted the big bling affair in his native Cork with everyone invited. "Numbers-wise, it's going to be challenging," Lisa laughed.
The robbery of Drayton Manor in May (when masked raiders stole jewellery worth thousands of euro from their home) had Gerald telling Niamh Horan in the Sunday Independent in June this little nugget: "To be honest, the robbery set it back," said Gerald. "I want to have a nice engagement ring for Lisa. As a man, you have to address your mind to things like that."
Looking back, in the end the robbery effectively set back the wedding and that setback proved permanent.
Having spoken to people close to the couple, these are the facts as best I can ascertain them. And facts are always very hazy things in high-profile break-ups.