Martin and Paul jet in for Heaney night
Talk about arriving in style. Fiddle player extraordinaire Martin Hayes hitched a ride like no other to the commemorative concert 'Celebrating Seamus Heaney' at the National Concert Hall this week.
"I nabbed a lift back from the States in Paul Simon's private jet. We rehearsed while soaring over the Atlantic. It was quite the experience," he said.
The concert saw a collection of singers and literary lovers including Simon, President Michael D Higgins, Lisa Hannigan and delightful poet Theo Dorgan recite poems by the Nobel Laureate.
Despite playing some of the biggest venues around the globe, Simon was suffering from some last-minute nerves backstage.
I found him lurking beside the towering cello cases in the wings. "I'm feeling some degree of trepidation," he said, while Paul Brady sauntered around strumming his guitar.
"I've set a few of his poems to music, which I hope will be better than me reading them with a loud American accent," Simon added.
Heaney and Simon struck up a friendship after their mutual friend, poet Derek Walcott, introduced them at the Abbey Theatre in 1991.
There was a buzz backstage as musicians fine-tuned their instruments. Pianist Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin was careering around, getting his sheet music in order, while Liam O'Flynn gave his uilleann pipes the once over.
"That's it!" the stage manager shouted angrily, ushering us back into the lobby where I bumped into President Higgins and his wife Sabina.
The President was reading From the Republic of Conscious and was quick to explain the secret to winning over a captive crowd. "It's all about matching the word with the meaning – that's what rings authentic in the end."
Broadcaster Joe Duffy looked dapper in a navy blue suit and was eager to get to his seat. "What a line-up!" he said. "Seamus Heaney and Paul Simon – it's like being a teenager again."
The evening ended with a recording of Heaney reciting The Blackbird of Glanmore. "It was a great way to end the night," Simon said. "Hopefully Seamus will have overlooked and forgiven any of my American pronunciations."
Chat wins at Fairyhouse
I always love the experience of the Irish Grand National Easter meet at Fairyhouse, because you end up meeting the world and its mother and talking about everything from babies to tips for the horses.
There was chat about the big rugby game against Ulster next weekend when I bumped into Leinster scrum-half Eoin Reddan, enjoying lunch with his teacher wife Aoife, who is expecting their second child this summer.
With Jackie Lavin, I discussed the SSangYong Korando jeep which they are giving away on family day at Punchestown. In the parade ring, it was baby talk and congratulations for RTÉ's affable racing commentator Brendan McArdle, whose fiancee Sarah Crosbie gave birth to their first child, Jack, last month.
With my co-judges in the Most Stylish Lady competition, Brendan Courtney and Rosanna Davison, our downtime was filled with chat about Brendan's lunch with influential Elle editor Lorraine Candy at London's Wolseley hotel.
And with Rosanna, I joke you not, we chatted about the merits of eating almond butter with bananas.
Newly qualified as a nutritional therapist, Rosanna is busy putting her wedding plans in place and she revealed that there will be an opportunity for her guests to make special requests for songs as her dad, Chris de Burgh, sings on the day.
Nice touch that!
Emma plans showstopper
Diana Vreeland famously said that a little bad taste was no bad thing. "It's like a nice splash of paprika," she announced. "It's hearty, it's healthy, it's physical."
So I was pleased to see there was more than a healthy splash of it at last night's Peter Mark VIP Style Awards.
Overall, the night was a roaring success and ended, like all memorable nights do, in Copper Face Jacks on Dublin's Harcourt Street. Doesn't get more stylish than that now, does it?
While most Irish designers have spent the past week frantically sowing seams and stitching dresses for TV stars, dressmaker Emma Manley decided to give the annual awards ceremony a miss.
Instead Emma, whose fans include Aoibhin Garrihy and Amy Huberman, was gearing up for a trip to Singapore.
"I've got the head down and am focusing on that. I'll check out a few stockists, meet a few bloggers and try more than a little dim sum."
But before then, Emma will be getting ready for her upcoming autumn/winter show on April 29. "It's all go," she said. "I'm really excited about it all." Still, Emma must be gutted she's missed out on the Coppers all-access Gold Card all VIP guests were treated to.
Man for Four Seasons Louis back with new band Home Town
Walking through the Four Seasons earlier in the week I bumped into pop svengali Louis Walsh, who calls the swish Ballsbridge hotel an extension of his office.
The X Factor judge was very upbeat about his newest boy band, Home Town, who have just done their first photoshoot for VIP.
Cian Morrin, Ryan McLaughlin, Dean Gibbons, Josh Gray, Dayl Cronin and Brendan Murray headed up to Dundrum Town Centre and into Harvey Nichols where they were styled by Lisa Fitzpatrick and the Harvey Nichols team.
The guys posed like fashion pros and talked about coming back to Dundrum when the Town Centre hosts its 'Shop For Good' fundraiser from May 8 to 11.
The trip to Dundrum was extra special as they got recognised by the Dundrum Drummies and signed their first autographs.
They weren't nominated in the most stylish men category at last night's VIP style awards ... but give it a year or two!
BTW, Louis spent the long weekend at home catching up on box sets – The Good Wife is the current fave.
Maia set to follow her heart
There was plenty of bling on display at the launch of Insider magazine.
DJ Louise Duffy, who recently got engaged to GAA star and self-proclaimed fashion guru Paul Galvin, showed off her new sparkly rock.
"I never really wore jewellery up until now," she said. "I can't stop playing with it or looking at it – even when I'm on air."
But plans for the big day are still far away.
"Nothing is set in stone – except the stone," she said.
Bartenders rattled together speciality gin and champagne cocktails and tucked into more-ish canapés.
Comedian Dave McSavage talked about the next series of his RTÉ show The Savage Eye, which will feature his former flame Fiona O'Shaughnessy.
The husky-voiced Galwegian actress will play the part of gothic shamen 'Raven Man' in what I'm promised is a "role like no other".
It was an early night for model Roz Purcell, who had to be up at the crack of dawn for yet another intensive Iron Man training session. Rather her than me.
Columnist Maia Dunphy (left) made the most of the night, however, soaking up the atmosphere and chatting about her imminent move to the UK to be closer to her partner, comedian Johnny Vegas.
"One of us had to make the move but we haven't organised anything," she said. "We'll leave it 'til the last minute – like we always do."
Fashionistas out in style
Before the Insider party at House, the fashion brigade hit the launch party of the COS store, which opened on Wicklow Street yesterday. Marie Honda, who heads up the brand, mingled with guests including couturier Peter O'Brien, London PR Mark Quinn and Xposé's Michelle Doherty, who is expecting her first child with entrepreneur boyfriend Mark O'Shea.
Michelle (left with Marie Honda) is due to give birth at the end of August and is leaving the Xposé team when Aisling O'Loughlin returns.
Also there were raw food expert Katie Sanderson, MMA fighter Conor McGregor, footballer-turned-fashionista Paul Galvin, and PR Sonia Reynolds.