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Wednesday 20 November 2019

The name's Crosbie, Harry Crosbie -- family man gets OBE

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

IMPRESARIO Harry Crosbie is a man on Her Majesty's secret service.

Surrounded by his wife, children and eight grandchildren, Mr Crosbie was formally invested as a member of the Most Excellent Order of British Empire -- albeit an honorary one for this northside, Drumcondra boy.

He could have opted for Buckingham Palace and received the honour from Queen Elizabeth herself. However, it would have meant a solo trip to London so he chose to keep it local -- Glencairn in Sandyford, south Dublin -- and with the whole family by his side.

"I'm delighted my grandchildren were here to see it. It was very, very gracious of the queen to do this," said Mr Crosbie after receiving his medal from British Ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott.

The man who transformed the Docklands with the O2 arena and the Grand Canal theatre was awarded the honorary OBE -- a full OBE can only be bestowed on subjects of the monarch -- in recognition of his services to cultural relations between the two nations and the small matter of organising a major hooley for the queen on her state visit to Ireland last year.

In his citation, deputy head of the British Mission, Andrew Staunton, said in spy novels cultural relations were often used by Soviet diplomats as a cover for espionage. "To avoid any confusion in the month that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of . . . James Bond. . . we should make it clear that. . . when we say cultural relations, we mean cultural relations and not activities incompatible with Harry's status."

Mr Staunton said the embassy decided that instead of holding a return banquet for the queen's Irish hosts, it would organise a "sort of Royal Variety performance" in the Convention Centre.

"The embassy had almost no budget for the concert. The first person [it] turned to, in its hour of need, was Harry Crosbie," he explained.

Mr Crosbie's roll-call of showbiz contacts was put to good use and a host of Irish performers, including Westlife, the Chieftains and a troupe from Riverdance, took to the stage. "The queen was absolutely delighted on the night because she told us," said Mr Crosbie.

He said all those who had taken part in that memorable night were patriots as "the images that went out of Ireland were very, very positive".

"It showed the country at its best and it showed a country that's fighting back."

Irish Independent

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