Sunday 25 August 2019

Galen and Hilary at memorial for Sacha

Galen, Hilary and Alannah Weston
Galen, Hilary and Alannah Weston
Ailish Tynan
Valerie Pakenham
Quiet drink: Wendy and Shane
Glamourous gran... Celia Holman Lee
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Belfast became extra posh last week. Galen and Hilary Weston attended a special service of thanksgiving at Belfast Cathedral for Sacha, the Duchess of Abercorn, who died on December 10 in London.

Hilary, a former model, born Hilary Frayne in Dun Laoghaire in 1942, and Canadian husband Galen, who own Brown Thomas in Ireland, were at the memorial Mass with daughter Alannah, chairman of British department store chain Selfridges.

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Representing Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of York was also among the invited congregation, as was the Earl of Caledon, Viscount Brookeborough, Lord O'Neill and Mark Patrick Hederman of Glenstal Abbey, who delivered one of the tributes.

Another reading was delivered by Timothy Knatchbull, grandson of the late Lord Mountbatten and a survivor of the IRA bombing in Co Sligo that killed his grandfather on the boat Shadow V on August 27, 1979.

Sacha and her husband James Hamilton, the fifth Duke of Abercorn, were friends of Mountbatten, and regulars on the Shadow V. Sacha's godson Nicky Knatchbull was killed on the boat.

There is a story, well told, that prior to meeting her husband in the 1960s, Sacha had never been to Ireland.

It was only when on a holiday with friends on Islay in the Hebrides, that Sacha gazed across to "a shape in the mist. Little did I know a major part of my life would be here and all we've lived through over these years".

With the Queen, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother as guests, Sacha and James wed in Westminster Abbey in October 1966. Six-year-old Prince Andrew - who was, of course, at the memorial in Belfast - was one of her pages.

Sacha's great-aunt, the Countess Nadejda, married George Mountbatten, second Marquess of Milford Haven and a descendant of Queen Victoria. Sacha's blood was well and truly blue - Russian blue.

Her mother was a great-great-great granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. She was also a great-great-great granddaughter of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Sacha helped set up The Pushkin Trust in 1987 to help educate children in Northern Ireland.

Someone please stop me before I turn into Andrew Morton....

"I have a very eclectic mix of blood which, like a chameleon, helps you to fit in anywhere," the much-loved Sacha said.


Posh guests spice up the music in Mullingar

Ailish Tynan

We're all aristos this week, aren't we?

This Friday, expect a few well-born types at Belvedere House in Mullingar to watch local soprano Ailish Tynan perform.

It is part of the Great Music in Irish Houses series. Or the Great Bluebloods in Posh Houses series.

Belvedere House on the shores of Lough Ennell will, however, I'm told (reliably, even), play host to: the Pakenhams from nearby Tullynally Castle, as well as a gaggle of Guinnesses from their nearby and not at all draughty Westmeath country estates, plus Thomas (Lord Longford - he does not use his title) who is something of an arborist (he must be off his tree not to use his title! Joke!) and author. His lovely wife, Valerie, is also an author, to say nothing of being a patron of the Derravaragh Music Association (which hosts concerts in Tullynally Castle).

Valerie Pakenham

Other well-spoken folks expected this Friday at the delish ''do'' in Mullingar are the French Ambassador, Stephane Crouzat; horticulturist Octavia Tulloch; and my dear, dear, friend James Gibbons from Clara.


Thesps having a glass in House

Quiet drink: Wendy and Shane

Who says Dublin is quiet because everyone is away on hols? Not I, anyway. Last weekend in particular, there was something of a frisson about the capital city.  On Saturday night, it was all thesps. Acclaimed Irish actors Laurence Kinlan and Domhnall Gleeson were in House on Leeson Street. They were attending a friend's birthday party in House's new super-refurbished Glass House. Someone shoot me before I say those in VIP Glass Houses should not throw shapes.

On the previous night Irish golfing god Shane Lowry was in the same hipster hang-out for a quiet and discreet drink in the garden with friends and his beautiful wife Wendy Honner. On the Wednesday, alas not in House this time, but in 37 on Dawson Street, petrol-head contrarian Jeremy Clarkson enjoyed a bottle of some presumably top wine with some friends.

Speaking of friends, Gay Byrne and Joe Duffy were in the InterContinental having coffee and a chat on Thursday. Louis Walsh was in the hotel with the X-factor for lunch the previous day. So now you know.


Summer begins on Wexford Street

Glamourous gran... Celia Holman Lee

Fly her to the croon. Celia Holman Lee came up from Limerick with her husband Ger for Michael Buble at the 3Arena last Friday, while one of her models, the lovely Elizabeth Mangan, also travelled up from Limerick for Snow Patrol at Malahide Castle.

The ageless fashion goddess hosted a beano at the Carriage House in Adare Manor last week for the little angel in her life, Erika, who made her Holy Communion.

"She is our only granddaughter," Celia told me. "Plus the four boys (grandsons), Henry, Ryan, Tommy and Alexander. "There were 13 in total in the Manor."

There was a lot more than 13 last Thursday night at the Opium rooftop on Dublin's Wexford Street. It was the official way to be-Gin the summer. This I say because the chic event was put on by SuperValu to celebrate World Gin Day.

Guests - among them broadcaster Philip Boucher-Hayes and his food writer wife Suzanne Campbell - enjoyed gins which will be in SuperValu this week. Gulp.

But back to Opium's rooftop, where chef Kevin Dundon fed everyone with summer salads and burgers.

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