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Saturday 20 July 2019

The tycoon, the tantrums and the tears in a remarkable passion play

What would be considered outrageous in the average relationship is just a typical day for Johnny and Glenda, explains Niamh Horan

When millionaire property tycoon Johnny Ronan woke up last Sunday morning you'd be forgiven for thinking he would have had the hangover from hell. Following a row with ex-girlfriend Glenda Gilson the night before and reams of column inches in the tabloids looming, what was the man to do save to take two aspirin and crawl under the fine sheets of his Burlington Road home until the storm blew over?

Except Johnny Ronan isn't just any other man.

Within hours, he was jetting off with former Miss World Rosanna Davison on a whim to party the night away in vibrant Marrakech, Morocco.

He had met the stunning model, who is a long-time friend of Ms Gilson's, in the Ritz Carlton Powerscourt Hotel in Co Wicklow earlier that day. They had a drink and cuddled and as the fine wine flowed, good company turned into a crazy idea.

The pair made a quick stop at home, threw some luggage together and jetted off, along with a close friend of Rosanna's, into the night sky to party among the pink-tinted buildings of the Red City.

Stuff of legend to us but such is typical of Johnny Ronan. Impulsive at the best of times -- but also, every once in a while, impulsive at the worst.

By Tuesday, as he stretched out by the pool with one of the world's most beautiful women in front of a background of green palm trees, blue sky and the Atlas mountains, back home, all hell was breaking loose.

Far away from the €500-a-night La Mamounia Hotel, where the fun-loving trio were living it up, newspaper headlines screamed from newsstands about the row that had unfolded last Saturday week, when another of Johnny's impulsive decisions led to the by now infamous 'Rumble in Ranelagh'.

He had spent the day enjoying the Ireland-versus-England rugby match with close pals, music supremo Denis Desmond, Robbie Fox and Ronan Barry -- known as 'Redzer' to his friends.

Throughout the day, as he soaked up the atmosphere at Twickenham, he and Ms Gilson had been exchanging scores of texts. Ms Gilson later told friends that the number came close to a hundred, and a row then began to brew.

As a source within the couple's inner circle explained: "They were fighting over the sun, moon and stars. There were a couple of issues on the boil but the thing that really infuriated Johnny was an issue surrounding the Range Rover which he had recently taken back from Glenda."

As angry texts flew back and forth between the pair, Ms Gilson eventually texted her former beau, challenging him to come to Ranelagh so they could have it out face to face. Ronan, who was drinking in the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge with his friends, left in his chauffeur-driven Maybach with Ronan Barry and drove to Ranelagh.

A source close to the pair explained: "Unfortunately, Johnny took the bait and went to McSorley's pub where Glenda was watching the rugby match with a group of her male pals -- including Clive Saab."

As the source explained: "Hindsight's a wonderful thing. They're both sorry it happened now in the cold light of day but in the heat of the moment this confrontation blew up."

Words were initially exchanged, which -- according to onlookers -- eventually led to Mr Barry grabbing the Xposé presenter. Mr Barry vehemently denies this, claiming he only held her by the jacket to stop her getting involved. "I would never ever do that. I'm the type of man that would stand up when a woman comes into a room let alone comes to my table."

"All hell broke loose," said a source. "Redzer grabbed Glenda and Clive (Saab) jumped on him to get him off of her."

In the ensuing fracas, Mr Barry's face was badly scratched down the right-hand side, with versions of events varying as to how he came to have the nasty mark.

A source said afterwards that Mr Saab accidentally caused the injury with his wristwatch as he tried to pull the two apart, while Mr Barry, when approached by the Sunday Independent during the week, supported this theory that it was the wristwatch that caused the scratches.

However, Mr Saab strongly denies this, simply telling a friend: "That is completely wrong."

Mr Barry also joked later to friends about how Gilson threw him over the bonnet of a car outside the pub. "I don't know how she did it to me. I'm 18 stone," he laughed. "She must have caught me off-balance."

Meanwhile, during a separate encounter minutes later with Ronan, eye-witnesses say Gilson kicked her ex-lover twice. Once in the groin and once in his upper-thigh, leaving the property developer bent in two and wincing in pain.

As an onlooker explained: "He buckled over the minute she kicked him, and he was shouting 'my fucking balls'. It was madness. As she turned to leave, Johnny then took a swing at her and made contact with her backside."

Afterwards, speaking about Ronan -- who was left black and blue with a large lump on his upper thigh following the incident -- Gilson told friends: "I gave him a serious fucking boot. I got him straight in between his fucking legs. I got him in the balls," she said.

But speaking since, Gilson told friends that she is finding the whole saga difficult to take.

She told friends afterwards: "I'm sick. I vomited all night, I can't sleep, can't do anything. I'm fucking sick of this. All my friends are telling me you're fucked. You're never going to have a normal life. What can I do with this man?"

Sources close to the couple say it is only the second time the pair have met since their break-up on New Year's Eve. The other meeting came about following an article in the Sunday Independent in January, when Gilson and her mother Aileen travelled to Ronan's house to have a showdown with 'The Buccaneer'.

Ronan also made his ex-girlfriend aware that he was extremely unhappy with her talking to the media.

"There was a heated discussion between the three of them in the kitchen of his home," said the source. "Everything came out. I think they both just realised that the madness has to stop.

"There obviously still is something there, you don't send dozens upon dozens of texts to someone in the space of a few hours if there's no feeling there. Whether it's love or hate, I don't know, maybe a bit of both, but one thing's for certain -- there's definitely passion."

The friend continued: "Unfortunately over time I think they've both discovered that they're too alike and I think the penny has finally dropped that it is never going to work out.

"The relationship has taken its toll on both their families and I think they realise it's time to call it a day, even for the sake of their families alone."

Since the Ranelagh brawl, Ronan has told his inner circle that he is upset by suggestions that he sought out his ex-lover last Saturday week, while at the same time she has told friends that she has been going to great lengths to avoid him.

"Johnny has been out of the country every weekend for the past couple of weeks, purely for the fact that he doesn't want to bump into her," explained a friend.

"He feels that even when he goes to his own restaurants and bars, she might be there, given the fact that social pages have reported how she has been socialising in two of his premises in recent weeks -- Town Bar and Grill restaurant and The Residence Private Members' Club.

"He's been trying to keep his head down, he goes away cycling, to get fit and stay off the drink but unfortunately this incident happened last week and it has dragged everything out to the forefront again."

Meanwhile, as Gilson celebrated her birthday this weekend in Wright's Angler's Rest, her long-time friend Rosanna Davison -- who is in a relationship with long-term boyfriend Wesley Quirke -- told friends she doesn't want to get caught in the middle of Dublin's most volatile couple.

Speaking about the holiday, she told a friend: "It was a spur of the moment thing. For Glenda's sake I don't want to talk about it. But ultimately no one was doing anything wrong. Even my parents know. It was totally innocent."

She confided in her inner circle: "I don't mind if people know, it's just for Johnny's sake after what happened last week that it might have been better if it didn't hit the papers, and I don't want to be caught in any crossfire between him and Glenda."

However, this weekend pictures from a mobile phone have emerged of the pair cuddling before they jetted off on the trip.

Davison took a light-hearted view of the situation: "Everyone gets cuddles when I'm drunk," she laughed.

In recent days Gilson has told friends she feels hurt and betrayed by the pair's getaway.

"Glenda has been in floods of tears since the fight and is stressed out about everything. She even had Rosanna on the invite list for her birthday party," said a source close to the TV3 presenter.

"Whenever they bump into each other, Glenda will have a lot to say to her."

As Dublin's social scene remains captivated by Ireland's most enthralling on-off love affair, it seems nothing will shock when it comes to the couple's feisty relationship.

It's been almost a year since the rugged property developer fired off a press statement through his Treasury Holdings Company stating that the couple's three-year relationship had ended.

Within minutes the statement led to a huge media storm that would produce reams of column inches and endless guesswork over what continues to be one of Dublin's most talked-about couples.

Over the past four years, social observers have been gripped by tales of their exotic holidays, yachting trips, lavish gifts and passionate flirtations.

We've read about their fiery tempers and an Irish mammy's involvement, and we've become gripped by that heady mix of riches and beauty, power and status, love and hate, passion and emotional ties.

Speaking at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel only days later, Mr Barry was still sporting his wounds from last Saturday week in the form of a red raw scratch-mark down his face.

Looking exhausted and worn out after being caught in the eye of the storm from the tumultuous relationship, he told the Sunday Independent: "This whole thing has been completely blown out of proportion. I'm good friends with both Johnny and Glenda. Believe me, I'm well used to this."

The socialite, who says he wants to keep his head down after the birth of his newborn baby girl, was maintaining a brighter outlook than most on things.

"The two of them will probably be skipping down the road, hand in hand, in a matter of weeks," he laughed. Perhaps.

After all, what would be considered wild and unbridled in the average relationship is just another typical day in the world of Johnny and Glenda.

Now a Miss World has been added to the mix, it's anyone's guess what is around the corner in this extraordinary tale.

Sunday Independent

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