Thursday 8 December 2016

Amanda Brunker lifts the lid on Renards gossip as former celebrity nightclub is demolished

Amanda Brunker

Published 25/04/2016 | 12:15

Amanda Brunker at Renards with Liam Cunningham
Amanda Brunker at Renards with Liam Cunningham
Robbie Fox and Amanda Brunker at the launch of Amanda Brunker's second novel 'Champagne Babes' at Renards Nightclub in 2009
Amanda Brunker at Renards with Katy French
Amanda Brunker at Renards with the late Tony Fenton
Amanda Brunker at Renards with Baz Ashmawy and Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh
Amanda Brunker at Renards with owner Robbie Fox and model Emma Quinlan

It's the end of an era.

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Renards, Ireland’s first VIP nightclub, is officially gone. As of today, it has been demolished. It's the end of an absolutely fabulous champagne swilling era.

A nation might not cry, but a legion of former patrons will. And I can’t help but feel misty about the nightclub I spent my youth in - fell out of and where I met some of the most fascinating (and dysfunctional) people you'll ever come across.

I was too young to have witnessed Renards when it first opened back in the '80s as The Pink Elephant. A time when U2 partied beside Spandau Ballet, Def Leopard, The Boomtown Rats and The Pogues.

Amanda Brunker at Renards with Katy French
Amanda Brunker at Renards with Katy French

But I became a regular in the early '90s after winning Miss Ireland and I became a hostess there in 1999, which gave me plenty of inspiration for my first novel Champagne Kisses.

Owner Robbie Fox was the reason for its success. Everyone loved him because he was great at getting a party going and extremely discreet when others were not being so. He always said when he wrote his memoirs it would be filled with empty pages as he would sell off each of the stories to the guilty parties before it was published.

Indeed, there are many stories that I will never share myself, including which couples you’d ignore having sex in the toilets, but not all tales are too bold to be told.

So here are my Renards Awards.

Robbie Fox and Amanda Brunker at the launch of Amanda Brunker's second novel 'Champagne Babes' at Renards Nightclub in 2009
Robbie Fox and Amanda Brunker at the launch of Amanda Brunker's second novel 'Champagne Babes' at Renards Nightclub in 2009

Worst Garda Raid: After the 1999 MTV Awards. With the VIP section packed with celebrities, at least five Gardai stormed up the stairs in fluorescent jackets and demanded the place be emptied. With photographers camped outside, I quickly managed to escort Bono, Tom Jones, Mick Hucknall, Colin Farrell and the Jackass star Johnny Knoxville (who were all at one table) out the back door. It ruined a night of legend.

Most Cheeky Regular: Without a doubt Eamon Dunphy. He was the only customer who was actually allowed arrive in with his own booze. He’d always come with a bottle of fizz in his hand but would proceed to buy more. He was also a great tipper.

While I have many more personal awards, I think they are too litigious and ungracious to print. That said, I still laugh when I remember rapper Snoop Dogg and his massive bodyguards keeping owner Robbie out of his own VIP area.

But I will miss seeing the likes of Colin Farrell, The Corrs, U2, Liam Neeson, Mick Jagger and Chris Evans bouncing through the door, all happy and excited to mingle. And not forgetting some of the clubs best fans who are no longer with us. Gerry Ryan, Katy French and Tony Fenton… thank you all for the memories.

Amanda Brunker at Renards with Baz Ashmawy and Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh
Amanda Brunker at Renards with Baz Ashmawy and Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh
Amanda Brunker at Renards with the late Tony Fenton
Amanda Brunker at Renards with the late Tony Fenton

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