Bono's BFF Guggi not surprised that Paul McGuinness is quitting U2

Guggi has been part of Bono's 'inner circle' for decades

It has been a hot topic of conversation, but Guggi was not in the least bit surprised to hear the news that Paul McGuiness is to give up his role as manager of U2.

The  Dublin-based artist was at the Smock Alley Theatre this week, where he turned out to help launch another peer, 26-year-old Tag Beckett, into the industry.

Guggi has been part of Bono's 'inner circle' for decades and while he was keeping mum about the background to Paul's departure from the music group, he talked at length about his excitement to "hang out" with the old crew this Christmas.

"I have a really close group of friends and Christmas is a time when we can all spend some quality time together," he said. Traditionally, Bono and Guggi take their families for a day out at the races in Leopardstown over the holidays and this year will be no exception.

The painter, joined by his 19-year-old son Elijah, who no doubt we will see more of on TV and stage when he completes his course at the Gaiety School of Acting, said he was thoroughly impressed by Tag's 22-piece 'Ascension' collection.

But asked when we can expect to marvel over another of Guggi's exhibitions, the response was "you could be waiting a while".

He added: "I've had six exhibitions over the last 13 months, which for me is exceptional, so I'm taking time for myself at the moment to just enjoy painting and try out new things."

The Smock Alley provided the perfect backdrop for the canvasses, courtesy of Tag's father, Patrick Sutton, director of the theatre.

Artist Stephen Rinn and Philomena Byrne, from the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), were in attendance, while former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also stuck his head in the door.

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