Monday 18 December 2017

The Diary: Gay returns to Howth for pal John's exhibition

John McColgan, Gay Byne with his wife Kathleen Watkins and Moya Doherty at John's photographic exhibition in House Restaurant in Howth.
John McColgan, Gay Byne with his wife Kathleen Watkins and Moya Doherty at John's photographic exhibition in House Restaurant in Howth.
John McColgan with one of his photos from the exhibition in Howth.
Michael Colgan, Marty Whelan and his daughter Jessica at the opening of Romeo and Juliet at the Gate Theatre. Photo: Sasko Lazarov.
Andrew Scott
Kate O'Dwyer, Zoe Jordan and Louise Flanagan at designer Zoe Jordan's Spring/Summer Collection launch at Emporium Kalu, Naas, Co Kildare.
Alan Rickman and Joan Bergin at the screening of A Little Chaos
Cathy Belton at A Little Chaos premiere
Kathy and Pat Kenny at the opening night of Jersey Boys
Thalia Heffernan at Jersey Boys

Kirsty Blake-Knox and Bairbre Power

Gaybo didn't need to be asked twice to head back to Howth to launch a photographic exhibition by his good pal, John McColgan of Riverdance fame whose 'Howth Horizons' show was a major success last Monday.

It was the perfect night to follow the scenic road snaking its way out to Howth where my first port of call was Weekend magazine food guru Donal Skehan who is just back from a lovely holiday in Palm Springs with his Swedish fiancée Sofie.

He offered to make me dinner but I reluctantly turned down Ireland's answer to Jamie Oliver as I knew there would be seafood to savour at John's exhibition. . . and a gal can't be having two dinners a month before trying to fit into holiday clothes!

What a crowd greeted me when I walked into The House restaurant on Main Street where, once a month, all the tables are cleared away and the restaurant becomes a spacious art space.

There have been nine "Art at" events at The House restaurant and John McColgan's compelling images - all shot in natural light over a period of six months - made up their first photographic show and runs until April 20.

All proceeds from the sale of John's photographs go to the Howth RNLI so naturally, there was great support from the crew, their families and David Delamere, Chairman of the RNLI Irish Council presented John with a photo taken on his recent visit to the Howth All Weather Lifeboat. With a big turnout from locals too, the images sold like hotcakes.

Gay Byrne and John became firm friends when he produced the Late Late Show and John and Moya's company, Tyrone Productions, were responsible for making the fascinating programme, My Father's War which told the WW1 story of Gay's father, Edward Byrne, a cavalry man with the 19th Hussars.

Gay and Kathleen lived in Howth for 35 years, some of those as next door neighbours to John and Moya, and there was lots to catch up on.

Gay said everybody who lives in a fishing village anywhere in Ireland has huge admiration and pride in the people who run the lifeboats.

Guests attending included Joe Duffy, Gary Cooke, Eamonn Quinn, Morah Ryan and I also spotted the European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly and Ian Dempsey.

John told me how he bought his first camera in Woolworths when he was 14 and it costs 10 shillings and six pence which was half his weekly wages as a telegram boy at the GPO.

The award-winning producer/director has been taking pictures ever since of family, friends, birthdays, Christmas and special occasions and with patient mentoring by award-winning landscape photographer Peter Gordon, John began a journey to the next level.

"I have fallen in love with photography as an art form and its infinite creative possibilities. I have learned to see with new eyes", said John. "Finding that precise moment to press the shutter is challenging, satisfying and rewarding", he said.

Moya who was appointed chair of the RTE Board last year, looked fabulous in bias-cut cream chiffon.

- BP

Marty and his moustache have a bestseller in the works

"Actors wearing Mickey Mouse T-shirts and singing Dire Straits on the stage of the Gate Theatre?" Marty Whelan exclaimed. "Now I've seen everything."

Marty - the proud owner of Ireland's bushiest moustache - was full of beans at the opening night of The Gate's staging of Romeo and Juliet. And why wouldn't he be? Winning Streak returns to our screens this summer (thank Christ!) and he's in the middle of writing a book.

"I can't talk about it too much but it involves a biro and a bit of paper," he said. "And Sinéad and I will be dusting down the wheel and rolling it out of the Montrose shed again - which is good news for me and my accountant."

Marty joined a host of familiar faces in the foyer including former Love/Hate star Laurence Kinlan who is about to jump into rehearsals for Conor McPherson's The Night Alive.

I spotted Gaybo's other half Kathleen Watkins and the evergreen Ingrid Craigie flitting about the place.

PR Queen Avila Lipsett and actress Katie McGuinness bemoaned the fate of Shakespeare's star crossed lovers.

Fair City's Steve Gunn enjoyed a tipple at the bar alongside director of the Abbey Theatre Fiach Mac Conghail - who had rushed from the unveiling of the 1916 centenary celebration plans in Collin's Barracks.

Raconteur Michael Colgan worked the room, seasoned thespian Stephen Brennan told me about his recent trip to Hong Kong while Broadway director Ethan McSweeny discussed working on The Gate's next production of Brian Friel's A Month in the Country.

After the final curtain fell, the bar was flooded with hysterical actors. I bumped into Romeo himself, aka Fra Fee, who previously starred alongside Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe in 2012 flick Les Miserables.

"It's been such an incredible experience," he said. "I never thought I'd be in a Shakespeare production which featured so much music from Beastie Boys." No kidding.


Andrew is hearing things on Bond set

Monty Norman's iconic Bond theme tune is not easy to shake.

Just ask Andrew Scott who couldn't get the meddling number out of his head while on set of the upcoming 007 movie. Scott has taken on the role of Denbigh - one of Bond's Whitehall bosses - in Pinewood Studios' latest flick Spectre.

"The first line I deliver is very Bond-esque," he told a group of movie makers at an IFTA organised chinwag in the plush surroundings of the Shelbourne Hotel.

"I'm not going to tell you what my first line is but I could hear the music swell after I delivered it," he laughed.

"I felt like I was stepping into a piece of history, I think we all know the DNA."

Scott shares the screen with hunky Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz and Lea Seydoux and is relishing playing one of "the good guys" for a change. "I'm trying not to play so many psychopaths these days. It's nice to move away from Moriarty."

The BAFTA winner also advised aspiring actors to veer away from the Twitter machine.

"After the Sherlock finale I went online to see what people were saying," he said. "People were so critical I thought I was going to be fired so avoid the internet after any show." Sound advice.


Zoe's happy style squad

Zoe Jordan's faithful Irish fans were enthralled this week as she talked them through her new SS15 collection at Emporium Kalu in Naas.

There was lots to love especially the ribbed luxe feel jumpers with cut-out shoulder detail.

The collection, which is a tribute to the grown-up tomboy in her urban environment, was really well received by the Kildare ladies there, including Tamso Doyle, Marcella Burns, Emma Harrington, Valerie Roe and needless to say, Kate O'Dwyer and Louise Flanagan, the owners of Kalu (pictured right with Zoe) were thrilled with the reaction.

The ZJ girl is a travelled woman who is involved and interested in the city landscapes culturally, socially and professionally. The designer, who trained as an architect and is now criss crossing the globe with her label which showed at Shanghai Fashion Week, is launching with Saks for US and with Harvey Nicks in Kuwait.

- BP

Alan Rickman's latest drama has a lot to offer, not least his own dulcet tones

Actress Cathy Belton may be tetchy in the TV3 drama Red Rock, but last Saturday night she was in fashionista mode, looking utterly fabulous in a strapless black jumpsuit, for the Irish screening of A Little Chaos which was screened at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Teatime on Saturday night and we put on a little glam to go to the movie about a female landscape gardener awarded the assignment to construct the grand gardens at Versailles.

The romantic drama follows the strong willed Sabine de Barra, played by Oscar winner Kate Winslet, who was virtually make -upless and covered in mud for most of the movie, but she does have a few 'posh' outfits for going to the court of Louis XIV and these, along with the rest of the costumes, were glorious, as was the handiwork of the super talented Joan Bergin.

The award-winning costume designer turned up at the screening with a very chic outfit all topped off with a sassy black hat and splendid pearl jewellery.

Joan has been balancing the sartortial needs of movie character Sabine with those of Sabina Higgins, Ireland's first lady, who she has guided towards a very charming, contemporary wardrobe full of Irish designers. The team behind the costumes were partly based in Dublin and Cathy told of a glorious afternoon hanging out talking clothes with Kate and Joan.

Alan Rickman, who directed the movie and plays the role of King Louis XIV, has some stunning outfits but his shoes really take the biscuit.

It was funny how many women in the audience didn't bother to strain their heads to see him talk about the movie after the screening.

They just wanted to close their eyes and listen to his wonderful, mellow tones.

He praised Alison Deegan, the Irish woman who wrote the script "and we interferred with it," he joked.

Recalling how he worked with Kate Winslet on Sense and Sensibilty in the 90s, Rickman said "she was fun at 19 and still is."

- BP

Jersey Boys has the stars dancing in their seats

Doo-Wop hits and buckets of Brylcreem?

Why it can only mean one thing - hit musical Jersey Boys finally hit the Bord Gáis Energy stage this week.

And the show seemed to hit all the right notes with attendees. "It's fantastic," uber stylish designer Sonya Lennon gushed.

Conversation turned from Frankie Valli and mafia ties to Pat Kenny's new UTV Ireland show at the interval.

"I'm not giving anything away," he warned a pack of reporters. "But bring it on, I've got nothing to lose."

Nationwide host Mary Kennedy was bristling with excitement about her upcoming trip to New York with the Palestrina Choir.

"They are playing Carnegie Hall and I am hosting so I will be a little nervous," she said.

Doe-eyed model Thalia Heffernan talked about Paleo diets and backstage bitching at catwalk shows while Joe Duffy cut a dash in a smart brown tweed suit.

Across town in the Oak Room of the Mansion House literary folk gathered for the launch of the Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction 2005-2015.

It's the third in a series of anthologies edited by novelist Dermot Bolger and Ciaran Carty.

Bad Day in Blackrock author Kevin Power and Elizabeth Brennan furiously signed books while discussing the highs and lows of a writer's life.

"Getting to the desk every morning is the hardest part," Power said. "Especially when you have a hangover or no ideas. The best part is getting the first bound copy - nothing beats that."


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