Sunday 18 February 2018

Society: Summer sizzles at The Marker

Rosanna Davison at the garden party in the Marker Hotel.
Rosanna Davison at the garden party in the Marker Hotel.
Thalia Heffernan, Pippa O'Connor & Roz Purcell pictured at The Marker Hotel's summer garden party on the rooftop. Photo: Anthony Woods
Hayley Rock pictured at The Marker Hotel's summer garden party on the rooftop. Photo: Anthony Woods
Amanda Byram
Brian O'Driscoll and Amy Huberman enjoying Prime by Aldi at Taste of Dublin.
Gordon D'Arcy and Aoife Cogan brought their three-week-old daughter Soleil to Taste of Dublin
Andrea Corr & Lucy Nagle pictured at the 'Respect Summer Lunch' for the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ballsbridge. Photo: Anthony Woods
Ali Obernik and Caroline Hamilton pictured at the 'Respect Summer Lunch' for the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ballsbridge. Photo: Anthony Woods
Ella Griffin, author of Postcards from the Heart. Photo. Bryan Meade
Joanna Kiernan

Joanna Kiernan

The overcast and humid weather did not dampen the sizzling style of party-goers at The Marker Hotel's urban garden party, which kicked off the summer season on Wednesday evening last.

The Rooftop Bar was transformed for the occasion into a tropical oasis, complete with palm trees and upside down potted plants, as DJ Mo Kelly hit the decks with a selection of summer tunes.

Guests were even treated to gin and tonic and Champagne-infused Calippos on arrival.

It was a welcome break for a very busy Rosanna Davison, who is currently gearing up for the release of her nutrition and recipe book Eat Yourself Beautiful, at the end of August.

Rosanna began work on the book after her honeymoon last summer, which she believes helped her to beat the post-wedding blues.

"I did feel sad once we were home from honeymoon last year and it was all over because we enjoyed the celebrations so much, and the chance to spend time with family and friends. But I had to get started on my book," Rosanna, who marked her first wedding anniversary with Wes on May 16 in their favourite Dublin restaurant Rasam in Glasthule, told me.

"It was great to have a new project to focus on, and something I'm really passionate about, so that distracted me from any post-wedding blues. I'm really looking forward to the launch and book signings!" Rosanna added.

TV3's Alan Hughes and his husband Karl, fashion designers Helen Steele, Helen Cody and milliner Mark T Burke, were also spotted taking in the panoramic view of the city. Broadcaster Rick O'Shea enjoyed the party before heading off with friends to see Beck in concert.

Pippa O'Connor (who had just returned from her holiday in Greece), Roz Purcell and Thalia Heffernan also partied the evening away at the chic midweek soirée.

Across the city, on the same evening, blondes of the less beautiful, horn helmet-touting variety were being discussed, as comedian Neil Delamere launched a landmark publication in Viking Studies at Dublin's City Hall. The book, The Vikings in Ireland and Beyond - Before and After the Battle of Clontarf is edited by historian Professor Howard Clarke and City Archaeologist with Dublin City Council Dr Ruth Johnson, with contributions from the world's leading Viking studies scholars.

Blonde ambition: Caroline's film coup

Caroline Grace-Cassidy could teach us all a thing or two about multitasking; not only is the busy mum, author, screenwriter and actor's fourth book due out next month, but her first feature screenplay has just been picked up by major US film company Resurgent Films.

Caroline, who co-founded Smart Blondes Productions, Ireland's first all-female film and television production company in 2013, pitched the idea for Girls Weekend, which will go into production on June 2016, at the Galway Film Fleadh last year.

"We had interest from a couple of Irish production companies, but I was very eager to keep it away from the same faces in film here, who seem to get the work," Caroline said. "I was very conscious that I want to make it different and have new people in it, so when the opportunity came up with Resurgent in LA, I was delighted."

Fearne surprises birthday girl Amanda

Amanda Byram celebrated her 42nd birthday in London this week with a surprise party in her pal Fearne Cotton's house.

"It was all quite low-key, my boyfriend bought me a bike at the weekend and he planned a cycle to Richmond," Amanda said. "Then he unexpectedly pulled into my friend Fearne's house. She swung open the door and I realised they had been in cahoots arranging a gorgeous little get-together. I hadn't seen her in so long, so my boyfriend very sweetly arranged it."

Amanda admits to being "a big birthday person."

"My family have always been big into birthdays," she told me. "We always got breakfast and our gifts in bed as kids, and all chores were off limits until midnight. I love the feeling that you are so very special for 24 hours, and no one can touch that!"

The TV personality, model and fitness guru enjoyed a healthy cake for the occasion, free from wheat, refined sugar and dairy. However, Amanda's approach to her body has not always been as healthy as it is these days.

"Unfortunately it took years of damaging my body with fad diets to finally realise that I was miserable. My entire outlook has changed and I am now passionate about being healthy and strong," Amanda, who is part of The Positive Body Image Campaign, said.

"I believe that women should aim to be strong, not skinny - unnaturally skinny, that is. Being fit and healthy is so incredibly important. You can't be happy if you are constantly stressing about your body, and most women do.

"Young women have no idea of the repercussions they will have later in life, and also how much they screw up their metabolism by yo-yo dieting," Amanda added. "Ultimately, it works against you and you end up struggling to stay in shape when you're older because your body is confused. If I could give my younger self one piece of advice it would be to stop dieting! It destroys your body and also your happiness."

So, is a return to these shores on the horizon for the beautiful birthday girl?

"I love Ireland with every part of my being, but for work purposes I am based between London and LA. My life is wherever it takes me," Amanda said.

"I don't think too far into the future, I believe that is the secret to feeling alive; but I get home to Ireland as often as I can and I am always in meetings with RTÉ and TV3 to see if we can create a show that works for us both."

Aoife and Gordon enjoy baby's day out

Aldi's restaurant 'Prime by Aldi' was the pick of the bunch for VIP foodies this past weekend at Taste of Dublin in Dublin's Iveagh Gardens.

Brian O'Driscoll and Amy Huberman dined in style with their adorable little people Sadie and Billy in tow. While Aoife Cogan and Gordon D'Arcy made their first public appearance since the birth of their daughter Soleil three weeks ago, with doting dad Gordon clearly taking to fatherhood like a duck to water. Mairéad Farrell and her new husband Louis Ronan also enjoyed a reunion with their wedding planner Peter Kelly.

Meanwhile, one of the most glamorous lunches of the summer season, the annual RESPECT lunch, took place on Saturday at The InterContinental Hotel. Guests included comedian Barry Murphy, Andrea Corr and Mary Mitchell-O'Connor. The event, which is held in aid of the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services each year, brought in a whopping €80,000 in much needed funds.

Ella's 'heavenly' island getaway

'Some holidays are like a good book - you just want to open it and start all over again once it is finished," author Ella Griffin told me this week, fresh from a 'heavenly'  17-day break on the island of Crete.

Ella jetted home ahead of the release of her third novel The Flower Arrangement, published by Orion Books, on Thursday, and to ready herself for the book's launch on Tuesday next in the Gutter Book Shop Cow's Lane, of course.

The evening promises to be a star-studded affair with a number of Ella's friends and colleagues from the writing world expected to attend, including close friends Marian Keyes and Helen Seymour, RTÉ's Rachael English, Cathy Kelly and Kate Beaufoy, as well as the wonderful Kate Kerrigan, who will be doing the official duty of launching the book on the night.

"Irish female writers are very supportive of one another and it is so important," Ella said. "When you are stuck in your writing or when you are in the middle of it and just cannot see the end to it, it is good to know that everybody goes through that. It is massively important to have that fellowship with people, who understand exactly where you are at," Ella added.

Nathan keeps it country, but the US beckons

Country music heart-throb Nathan Carter is back in Ireland for the summer after a UK tour and brief sun-break last week in Tenerife.

The crooner, who managed to keep both Taylor Swift and Brandon Flowers off the top spot in the Irish album charts for a solid three weeks following the release of his album Beautiful Life in May, will return to Cork tomorrow to perform at the Live at The Marquee festival.

"I am so lucky with the fans in Ireland, we have such dedicated followers, they follow us all over," Nathan said.

However, Nathan's dedicated Irish fan base may have to prepare for longer treks in the future, with an American tour in the works for next year.

"The recording of our DVD is going to be pitched to PBS for American television, and fingers crossed we will be able to tour there next year, which would be a dream come true," Nathan revealed.

It is not all bad news for Irish fans, however, as Nathan confirmed that he is single and keeping an eye out for someone special.

"I am always looking," he laughed.

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