Wednesday 17 January 2018

Theatre impresario takes centre stage in three-act party

Grainne Cunningham and Ken Sweeney

NO one knows how to party like the Irish, they say. And celebrating an award of the British Empire is as good an excuse as any these days.

Not that any excuse seemed to be required by those that gathered at Il Segreto restaurant in Dublin yesterday to honour Gate director Michael Colgan's imminent OBE (Order of the British Empire).

Giorgio Casari and Jeff Stokes, who also own Il Segreto's sister restaurant the Unicorn, threw the bash for Michael's family and friends.

Michael Gambon, currently starring in 'Krapp's Last Tape' at the Gate, was the first to arrive at the venue on Dublin's Merrion Row, sporting his trademark colourful socks, but not his own CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire).


Not that he was bothered about out-gunning his old pal. It's just that you're only supposed to wear the medals with full morning dress and since neither of them wear tails very often, we're not likely to see them any time soon.

The director said yesterday's party was only the first of three.

"It's like the British electoral system. They have three parties and so do I. For this one I had all my mates, Denis Desmond, Robbie Fox, Graham Beer, Paul McGuinness and Michael Gambon and the British ambassador there. Eamon Dunphy gave a great speech. Mary Finan gave a great speech. The whole thing was great," Mr Colgan said.

The next party will be for collegaues at the Gate and staff of the Unicorn/Il Segreto restaurants. And the third will be in the British Embassy on June 22 when he actually gets the OBE, awarded for his contribution to cultural relations in the arts between the UK and Ireland.

Mr Colgan joked that he wanted the accolade to be bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II herself.

"I am doing everything in my power to the get the Queen to honour me with this in Ireland. I'd love her to give it to me here in Dublin," he said.

Eamon Dunphy gave a speech about the director, saying "he well deserves this OBE but he has been such a loyal friend, OBE or no OBE".

Michael Gambon revealed he didn't normally speak publicly about his friends but was making an exception for Michael Colgan, who he said was not only a loyal friend but godfather to his son. "I would do anything for him," he said.

Restaurant critic Paolo Tullio said that he had been friends with Michael since they were in Trinity together: "He has never changed. He has always been such a good friend."

Fellow Trinity graduate Paul McGuinness, the U2 manager, agreed in his own speech that they had all been in competition together in the same amateur dramatic society.

Other revellers included Denis Desmond, Caroline Downey, Robbie and Martina Fox, Harry Crosbie and Mr Colgan's children Sarah and Richard.

Irish Independent

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