Saturday 18 January 2020

Absence makes hearts stronger for Leo and Matt

Long distance love... Leo Varadkar and partner Matt Barrett are spending a year 3,600 miles apart
Long distance love... Leo Varadkar and partner Matt Barrett are spending a year 3,600 miles apart
Steve Garrigan
'Don't Let Go' actress Aoibhinn McGinnity dined at Kirwan's
Sean Gallagher and Brendan O'Connor joined our very own Emily Hourican at the launch of her new book, White Villa, in Dubray Books in Dublin last week. Picture Fergal Phillips
Pat and wife Kathy had a ball in favourite restaurant
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Ireland's youngest ever Taoiseach. The son of an Indian immigrant. Openly gay. Openly a fan of Blur... Leo Varadkar is very much the modern political leader.

And so, fittingly, his relationship with his partner Dr Matthew Barrett is very much the modern one. The long distance one.

Leo in Dublin running Ireland - "An island at the centre of the world", as he told Time magazine in July - and Matt continuing his medical education on a fellowship in Chicago.

Some 3,600 miles separate them but Leo told me from his holiday visit to Matt in Chicago last week on the complicated joys of a long distance relationship: "It's going OK. We are both busy with new jobs. So in some ways, it's a good time to be apart for a bit.

"We keep in touch through FaceTime and will try to meet up in Ireland or the US every couple of months," said Leo, who flew to Canada yesterday on a official visit. He will fly home to Dublin next Wednesday. "Matt's gone for a year since July 1. He finished his specialist cardiology training in Ireland, so he needs some international experience." I wonder, however, how Leo's own heart feels about his cardiologist soulmate being on the other side of the North Atlantic Ocean for the next year.

Doubtless, absence makes the cardiologist's heart (and the Taoiseach's) grow stronger...

Kodaline come up for some summer night air at 37

Steve Garrigan

The whole country is seemingly away on holiday - either in Marbella (the Roccas, et al), the Algarve (Miriam O'Callaghan and the brood), America (Leo and Matt), and beyond. So, it was particularly good of Kodaline to be out and about of an evening recently in Dublin, wasn't it? Otherwise I might as well have folded up my tent and gone home.

Mercifully, the weekend before last, Steve Garrigan (above) and the rest of the Swords supergroup were in 37 on Dawson Street with their management team.

Arriving just before midnight, the hugely acclaimed act enjoyed a drink or two in the plush wine bar where they stayed until late.

And why not?

Dorff parties into the night - and into the West

SN Actress Aoi.jpg
'Don't Let Go' actress Aoibhinn McGinnity dined at Kirwan's

Saying there was a movie star spotted in Galway is a bit like saying a raving lunatic with hair that quite possibly isn't his own was spotted in the White House firing someone. It is to be expected.

So movie star Stephen Dorff being spotted at The Seafood Bar @ Kirwan's Lane in Galway is hardly a revelation for a city that gets movie stars by the limo-load.

He rented a swish pad in the city while he filmed David Gleeson's alt-thriller Don't Let Go with brilliant Irish actress Aoibhinn McGinnity, among others, in the West.

The film having wrapped, Stephen flew to St Tropez in the south of France last weekend (and then probably back home to Los Angeles, where his next door neighbour is Charlize Theron).

My Deep Throat in Galway told me that the star of Somewhere, Wheeler and American Hero, "threw plenty of parties back at his place while he was here, well into the early hours."

And a very hungry guy, too, as he was a regular diner at Kirwan's (and sister restaurant O'Grady's on the Pier in Seapoint, Barna) during the summer.

Scarlett Johansson was spotted in Kirwan's in January.

More recent diners in the haunt to the stars in the West included JP McManus's son Kieran and his wife plus the likes of Jim Sheridan, John Grisham, Stephen Rea and the aforesaid thespian superwoman Aoibhinn McGinnity.

It must be something they put in the food.

How our Brendan kept Emily right on the edge

Sean Gallagher and Brendan O'Connor joined our very own Emily Hourican at the launch of her new book, White Villa, in Dubray Books in Dublin last week. Picture Fergal Phillips

Allow me briefly to magic this column into the books page. Last week, your diarist bumped into that lovely  literary gadabout Emily Hourican, just before she headed off with her family on her hols to Kerry.

Talk turned to her new novel, White Villa. Emily told me this is the tale of friends who have known each other all their lives and go on a hedonistic holiday to Ibiza - is there any other kind? - in their second year of college.

"One of them invites a new friend, Natasha, along, who comes from a very different, drifting kind of background," Emily said.

"What happens on that holiday shapes the people they all become, and when they meet up 10 years later, they are still dealing with the terrible consequences. It's the story of what happens when you let an outsider in."

Whatever about outsiders, there were plenty of fascinating and entertaining characters let into Dubray Books on Grafton Street for the unveiling of White Villa the week before last.

"The launch was amazing because I thought no one would turn up, on a bank holiday Tuesday in August, but, in fact, loads of people came - friends, family, colleagues, readers. And it was incredibly jolly."

Guests who helped provide this atmosphere included Kevin Kelly, Domini Kemp, Sean Gallagher, Alison Canavan, Anne Marie O'Connor, Grace O'Shaughnessy, Rhona Blake (without husband Charlie but Emily did sign a copy of the book for him) and lots of others. Our own - and Cutting Edge anchor on RTE - Brendan O'Connor officially launched White Villa.

"Brendan made a great speech in which he was the perfect balance between teasing me and giving a really good critique of the book.

"He is the first person non-family or publisher to read it. So I was nearly on a knife edge when he was reading it."

On a Cutting Edge, even.

Kennys sparkle on a birthday date with family

Pat and wife Kathy had a ball in favourite restaurant

When he is not lighting up the airwaves with his show on Newstalk, Pat Kenny is lighting up south Co Dublin. Or at least part of Glasthule.

The Newstalk and TV3 star helped his beautiful wife Kathy celebrate her birthday last Sunday in Rasam in Glasthule.

There wasn't a birthday cake per se, but proprietor Nisheeth Tak and his team at Rasam did put two sparklers on a small chocolate brownie cake which, I'm reliably informed, lit up Kathy's eyes and the aforesaid hip Indian restaurant.

At which point Pat, their two daughters and a guest sang happy birthday to the gorgeous birthday girl.

Arriving at 8pm, the mini birthday beano (which consisted of a lot of good vibrations plus five Thai meals, a bottle of rose and a bottle of Spanish red wine, if you must know) went on until just before 10pm.

Well - Pat had to be up bright and early the next morning to be into Digges Lane for his popular radio show.

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