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Wednesday 18 July 2018

Late Irish socialite Vi Lawlor (94) leaves €380k estate

STYLE AND GRACE: The late Vi Lawlor loved hosting lavish parties at her Kildare home
STYLE AND GRACE: The late Vi Lawlor loved hosting lavish parties at her Kildare home
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

A glamorous socialite with a glass of "bubbles" in her hand, Vi Lawlor became a by-word for style with the social columnists at a time when celebrity was in its infancy in Ireland.

Hosting lavish parties for the social set at her home, Osberstown House in Co Kildare, she used her contacts in the media to popularise the family hotel, the ivy clad Lawlors, in Poplar Square, Naas. In the heart of racing country it was the place where the 'smart set' stopped off when coming or going to the races at The Curragh or Punchestown.

Her chic appearance and place in the 'in crowd' was chronicled by social diarists like Terry Keane. Glamorous figures like Marianne Faithfull stopped in for a drink when staying with Desmond Guinness and their appearance then popped up in the social diaries of the newspapers.

Violette Lawlor, described as an hotelier of Osberstown, Naas, Co Kildare died on October 25, 2017 at the age of 94, and according to papers lodged in the Probate Office in Dublin last week, left estate valued at €380,000.

At her funeral last year her nephew, the noted doctor and medical writer and Sunday Independent columnist, Maurice Gueret noted her style and grace and said she had been introduced to Champagne by the Gueret family in Belvedere House, "thus beginning a very healthy relationship with bubbles, that lasted for Vi for 87 years".

At the age of 80 she hosted a glamorous party at Kilkea Castle, wearing her trademark gold silk dress designed by her friend Ib Jorgensen and arriving in her Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.

Her social set included Michael and Norma Smurfit, Bill Cullen and Jackie Lavin (who eventually bought her house), Noelle Campbell Sharpe, Renata Coleman, then living in the rambling Humewood Castle in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, Clodagh Keane, the architect Sam Stephenson and visiting celebrities like Princess Di's butler Paul Burrell.

Her party piece was Edith Piaf's, Non, je ne regrette rien.

Although her soirees at Osberstown House were legendary 'Vi', as she was universally known, was more than just a party person. As well as running the famous hotel she was also the mother of seven children, including one-time Pacific showband singer Peter, who predeceased her, and went under the stage name of Peter Law.

Lawlors of Naas was founded in 1913 by Brigid Lawlor. Her son Jim - known universally as 'the Squire' - took over the business. He married the glamorous Violette Gueret, who had dabbled in modelling and acting, before joining her husband in the hotel where she became one of the great 'marketeers'.

She never failed to acknowledge a courtesy with a hand-written note of thanks.

Described as "one of Ireland's most stylish women" she attributed her slim figure and longevity to a wise diet, and a moderate intake of Champagne.

Sunday Independent

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