Saturday 22 October 2016

The recession is dead - Lisa Murphy beat it to death with a designer handbag

Published 31/05/2015 | 02:30

Hosts Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy
Hosts Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy
PARTY TIME: Barry Egan and Fiachna O’Braonain of Hothouse Flowers
Jackile Lavin and Bill Cullen
Christy Dignam with his daughter Kiara
Fionnuala Moulton and Anne Marie Nohl at Gerald Kean's charity party in Drayton Manor, Co. Wicklow
Artist Graham Knuttel

It's the morning after the night before. All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Gerald Kean is telling me that he turned in at 4am. "Lisa went to bed at 5.30am. I know because she woke me up!"

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What Lisa Murphy did at the party-to-end-all-parties was perhaps far more significant than rousing her boyfriend from his stately slumber. . . the recession is dead. She beat it to death with a designer handbag at Drayton Manor on Thursday night.

It was like Alice In Wonderland, but more fantastic. Gerald and Lisa took over 600 guests down the rabbit-hole on their rambling estate in Co Wicklow. Lisa was not walking around in her glamorous outfit saying, "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast" (nor indeed was Gerald running around asking, "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?"), but the sense of the surreal from the two hosts was hard to ignore.

Gerald was walking around Drayton Manor and its 600 revellers with an unlit cigar the size of a ghost estate. Lisa's prized assets looked like they would make an escape from her revealing top at any moment. Of course, it wasn't a particularly startling sight to see Lisa clad like that.

Other sights that greeted you at this giant summer bash in aid of two charities - Down Syndrome Cork and Barretstown -were secret-service-like men walking around talking into earpieces and waitresses rolling endless trolley-loads of red and white wine. There was a free bar inside, and a stall doling out hamburgers and chips.

People came over to take selfies with Lisa like she was Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton. (After a while at the party, it became perfectly obvious that what you did to become a celebrity isn't as important as having become one.)

"Hello, darling," Lisa says to everyone, and, then, "Fan-tastic!"

Bill Cullen and Jackie Lavin stood taking in the spectacle. Former Dragons' Den star Niall O'Farrell floated from table to table.

Various members of Hothouse Flowers milled about in splendour of the garden. So did artist Graham Knutel, singers Mundy and Christy Dignam, foodie Ann Marie Nohl and Chairman of Irish Association of Cosmetic Doctors Dr Patrick Treacy, among, literally, hundreds of others.

On the road outside the mansion, there was a member of An Garda Siochana gainfully employed directing traffic.

Inside, it was like the forecourt of a BMW or Mercedes car dealership with all the top-of-the-range cars parked in front of Drayton Manor. In a kind of automobile apartheid, the lesser cars with lower regs were parked on the road outside the gates to King Kean's gaff.

It's like the Celtic Tiger has returned, albeit limping and not quite as full of herself as before. You could argue that the craziness of that era started in earnest in the summer of 2002 when a Cork fella by the name of Gerald Kean purchased his then wife Clodagh an €8m seven-seat Cessna 560 executive jet as a birthday present.

At the party, Gerald gave a Churchillian speech (complete with cigar) from the stage as he announced Mundy was about to perform. In truth, Gerald's performance was almost as entertaining as Mundy's.

"I was delighted to get a lifetime achievement award from Barretstown last year," Gerald tells me. "So I promised them at that gig that I would do something for them and because everything I do I like to share with Cork, so I got Cork Down Syndrome involved and I decided to host this."

"I'd say we've raised about €50,000 or €60,000 tonight," Gerald continues. "We have got huge support from people. I'm paying for the whole event but a lot of that cost is covered because people are sponsoring it and covering things etc. But it is an amazing night in Drayton Manor."

The last time I was in Drayton Manor, I went to bed at 5am with my wife, leaving Gerald and Lisa in the bar of their own home. I went to the bathroom down the hall before turning in, couldn't find my way back to my room and slept in another room, mercifully not Gerald and Lisa's.

As I'm sure even Bill Clinton would agree, Gerald and Lisa's relationship has been more on-off than Clinton's underwear during his Presidency.

I meet Lisa by accident by the rose bushes. I tell her that I can't keep up with her and Gerald's love life. She laughs and says nothing. So, you are back together then? "Well, obviously if I'm here," she says. "Yes, we are together."

Is it that you can't be together, you can't be apart, so you're better off together? "Yes, it is something like that. Hence we end up back together, all of the time."

To change the subject, Lisa congratulates me on my new baby. I ask her when she and Gerald are going to have a baby. "Oh, we're trying," she hoots. "We're trying!"

Restaurant owner, and one of the couple's closest friends, Padraic Hanley, provided, perhaps, the best analysis of Gerald and Lisa's relationship: "They're always on. Even when they're off - it is kind of always still on. I think that's the way we look at it."

Sunday Independent

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