The Diary: Celtic Woman act add extra glitz to tour
Bodhráns at the ready; spectacular stage show Celtic Woman is to return to Ireland.
But don't worry, it's not all diddly-eye music and quick steps.
Oh no, according to singer Susan McFadden this show has heart, soul and top-notch gúnas.
"People think we're going to be running about on stage in Aran jumpers and with ringlets in our hair and dancing with sheep, but it's a lot more glam than that," McFadden explained.
"Our dresses are designed by Synan O'Mahony, you can't get sexier than that."
Synan has kitted out some of the glitziest Irish slebs going from Kathryn Thomas and Amy Huberman to Rozanna Purcell and our very own Jungle Jane Nadia Forde.
McFadden will be joined on the 3 Arena stage on January 24 by Mairead Carlin, Lynn Hilary and Máiréad Nesbitt.
The Emmy-nominated show has shifted three million tickets since it hit the road 10 years ago.
That's a lotta tickets!
"We're kicking off the anniversary tour in Ireland," McFadden said.
"So we're starting things off with a bang."
Spoilt for culinary choice at ambassadors' RDS bash
Dublin 4A, or should I says E, isn't called the Embassy Belt for nothing.
All the top diplomatic missions, embassies and ambassador's homes are located close to the hub of Ballsbridge and so it was that all the diplomats got into a festive mood and gathered for the International Charity Bazaar last Saturday.
The Netherlands Ambassador, Paul Schellekens, president of the ICB, welcomed guests and I met British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott and his wife, Jane, who is executive director of the ICB.
The bazaar has long been a favourite on the social front because of the sheer diversity of fabulous gifts and food on offer and thousands of people thronged the RDS to 'experience the world in a day' and foods from 40 countries.
The ICB was formed by the diplomatic corps in Ireland to raise funds for Irish-registered charities and in addition to their Bazaar they organise a diplomatic ball every May.
Amongst the ambassadors lending support on the day were Ahlangene Sigcau (South Africa), Silvia Merega (Argentina), Jean-Pierre Thébault (France), Maurizio Zanini (Italy), Mrs Lela-alem Gebreyohannes Tedla (Ethiopia), Michalis Stavrinos (Cyprus), Dr Eckhard Lübkemeier (Germany) and Peteris Karlis Elferts from Latvia.
It was lovely to meet again with genial Mexican ambassador Carlos Garcia de Alba, and the other ambassadors supporting the event included Hermes Herrera Hernandez (Cuba), Javier Garrigues (Spain), Maxim Peshkov (Russian Federation), Afonso José Sena Cardoso (Brazil), Bernardo Futscher Pereira (Portugal), Philippe Roland (Belgium), Roald Sturla Næss (Norway) and the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, who is Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Ireland.
Standing out in the crowd was the statuesque genial deputy lord mayor Jim O'Callaghan, who dropped in to lend his support.
Norah Casey performed the raffle featuring some seriously covetable prizes including a rose gold diamond pendant from Boodles and return flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The proceeds were in aid of seven Irish charities - Burrenbeo Trust, Down Syndrome Centre, Galway Community Circus, Helium Arts, Integration & Support Unit, Midlands Simon Community and Youghal Men's Shed Peer Project.
Forget about the clichéd joke about diplomats and their love of Ferrero Rocher, the RDS was a virtual culinary global village and we sampled delicious edible treats including dulce de membrillo from Argentina, chicken and pork adobo from the Philippines, Varenyky (hot dumplings) from the Ukraine, Belgian waffles and crêpes and Turkish revani (traditional Ottoman pastry with syrup).
The day included a cultural programme and Mount Anville school choir entertained.
Hats off to Irish Grand National's new riches
Wednesday's bad weather and incredibly dramatic, sudden dense fog did nothing to dampen my diary appointments. Off I headed to Fairyhouse racecourse where the course chairman, former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne, announced that next year's Irish Grand National on Easter Monday will be Ireland's richest jumps race.
The 'race of the people' as it's popularly known is an Easter fixture on many people's calender and after Cheltenham and before the Curragh, it's their place of choice to celebrate Easter with the family.
The story goes that when the 1916 insurgents arrived into Dublin, many of the British army officers and the 'ordinary' working folk of Dublin were all down at the races in Fairyhouse, cheering on All Sorts, ridden by J Lynam, past the winner's post.
Next year's classic €275,000 event will be sponsored by Boylesports who are signed up for two years.
The rain drove us indoors for the photos and guests happily tucked into the fabulous food provided by Fitzers including mini venison burgers, panco prawns and vegetarian samosas.
Guests from Horse Racing Ireland included CEO Brian Kavanagh and its chairman Joe Keeling, Grand National winning jockey Barry Geraghty and well-known trainer Noel Meade.
I also spotted former Meath TD Mary Wallace, Fairyhouse general manager Peter Roe and board member Dara Mullen. Boylesports owner John Boyle was also present along with Danielle Grimes and Leon Blanche from his team. HRI's Jane Davis from Goatstown and Joanne Burke (left) from Bettystown, Co Meath gamely posed for some photos.
Heathcliff gets hearts racing
"Ohmigad!" the tall brunette exclaimed grabbing my arm. "You're not going to believe this but Heathcliff is sitting at the bar!"
Indeed he was.
Or, at least, the Rada-trained actor playing Emily Brontë's literary hunk was.
The Gate Theatre's production of Wuthering Heights, starring Tom Canton as the bold and brooding Heathcliff and Kate Brennan as Catherine Earnshaw, was met with rapturous applause and a standing ovation.
"I think women like Heathcliff's unpredictability, his passion and his recklessness," Canton said. That'll do it, alright.
Speaking of passionate leading men, I bumped into my favourite RTÉ broadcaster Marty Whelan who was full of chat about his Christmas plans.
"I'll be at home with the feet up watching TV, enjoying a sherry or five," he laughed.
Old uncle Gaybo arrived arm in arm with Kathleen Watkins while Pat Kenny reminisced about interviewing songstress Kate Bush in the 1970s. "We thought she was a one-hit wonder," he said. "She was a wisp of a thing and floated about the place."
Author Joseph O'Connor was there to support his other half, Anne-Marie Casey, who penned the stage adaptation of Brontë's book. "It's not every first night you attend where you're in love with the playwright," he said.
Actress Ingrid Craigie was enjoying some well-earned time off after her stint in the Abbey Theatre's production of Our Few and Evil Days. "I'm going to make the most of the long Christmas stretch," she purred.
Director Wayne Jordan caught up with actor Marty Rea, who will appear in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker alongside Sleepy Hollow star Michael Feast.
It's been 70 years since The Gate staged Wuthering Heights but it's not for want of trying.
"I asked Hugh Leonard to do it before but he said no," director of The Gate Michael Colgan said.
"It's a long and rambling tale but I think we've cracked it. It's got drama, romance and ghosts - what more do you want?"
Louis on call for medics as Abba becomes Abbatoir for one night only
They were crying tears of absolute hilarity at the CRY Ball in Leopardtown last Friday night after four of the country's top cardiologists got dressed up in satin and silks to perform 'Mamma Mia'.
Abba was renamed Abbatoir for the night and the 400 guests were treated to a hugely enjoyable video in which Dr David Mulcahy (left), from Tallaght hospital, with blonde wig and false eyelashes, was transformed into Agnetha.
Dr Rory O'Hanlon (Blackrock Clinic) turned into Anni-Frid in a flouncing brunette wig while Dr Peter Crean (St James) played Björn and Dr Hugh Mulcahy (St Vincents) was Benny.
Who would have thought going into the ball, held in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) - a partner in the Centre for Cardiovascular Risk in Younger Persons located at Tallaght Hospital - that X Factor's Louis Walsh was going to pop up on screen to introduce the parody band who last year gave us One Disection while the previous year they sang as DocLife.
And for those medics who have since heard about the funny video, filmed and directed by David's sister Lisa, it is available to view on YouTube. Shot in Ballymore Eustace, the cardiologists' video notes that "no animals were hurt in the making of the production, however, egos were bruised and reputations slaughtered."
It was a fun night and marked the 16th wedding anniversary for David and his wife Sharon, whose family own Fitzers Catering who were celebrating their official launch and return to Leopardstown Racecourse by hosting the glittering ball attended by Jacqui Hurley, Leinster rugby player Aaron Dundon, Ireland women's rugby team members Tania Rosser (left) and Fiona Coghlan.
Caroline brings a ray of sun to spring collection
They say fashion is art, dahling.
So it was more than fitting that Littlewoods held their Spring-Summer 2015 fashion show in the Royal Hibernian Academy's Tony Ryan Gallery.
The lovely Caroline Morahan (left) was on hand to boost all our spirits as we slumped through the doors and out of the pouring rain.
"Welcome to our garden party," she trilled. "We can all pretend it's sunny and bright in here."
The actress had dashed from rehearsals of the Abbey's upcoming Christmas show She Stoops to Conquer in which she plays the part of Miss Hardcastle.
Caroline will be joined on stage by comedian Jon Kenny, Janet Moran and Rory Nolan, who you might know for his portrayal of archetypal SoCoDu playboy Ross O'Carroll-Kelly in Paul Howard's Breaking Dad. "My costume is magnificent," Caroline said. "It's ruffled and red and I feel like I should be in a Caravaggio painting with it on."
Inside the gallery, fashion blogger Louise O'Reilly was busy snapping pictures of fashionably dressed ladies while RTÉ presenter Diana Bunici tucked into the tasty mini brownies on offer.
Stylists Ciara O'Doherty and Laura Mullett whizzed about the room frantically tweeting while model of the moment Thalia Heffernan stomped down the catwalk in floral jumpsuits, laser-cut midi skirts and crisp crop tops. Weather wonder woman Audrey McGrath chatted about wedding plans while flashing her blinding engagement ring.