The French village of Mougins is not quite as showy as its glitzy neighbour Cannes, but its charms have stolen the hearts of New York-based Irish couple, Angela Frawley and Rob Mahon. So much so that Rob proposed to Angela there last summer as they threw coins into its fountain and made a wish. They will be married in Mougins this August, with 150 of their friends and family descending on the village.
It holds a special place in their hearts, as they feel that they truly fell in love back in 2013 when Rob took Angela on a trip there for her birthday just after they had started dating. "It's our favourite place," says Angela, who is not one bit daunted at the prospect of arranging an Irish wedding in France from New York.
Then again, Angela (29) and Rob, who turns 30 this week, are dab hands at events and hospitality, respectively. Angela (pronounced Angle-ah, like Angela Merkel) works for a large British media company as events and communication manager for North America. She travels a lot and arranges lots of star-studded carpet events for its clients. "Meeting Martha Stewart was one of my favourite experiences," she says.
Rob is part-owner of Kennedys pub on Westland Row, Dublin, and two outlets, a Mexican restaurant, Toro Loco, and a pub, The Broadstone, in New York. He also helps run his family's large group of NY bars and restaurants, which includes four Pig 'n' Whistle bars, The Flying Cock and The Horny Ram.
Rob was born to Irish parents in New York, but came back aged four with his mum Geraldine and brother John after his parents' marriage ended. His dad John came over every five weeks to see the boys, and now they work together. Rob grew up in Foxrock and attended Blackrock College, followed by a BESS degree at Trinity College. He then lived in London for five years where he did a master's in international business and worked for brokers, Tullett Prebon.
He met Angela at the Easter Monday races at Fairyhouse in 2013, when he came home for four days. They had a mutual friend, Mary-Anne, and hit it off straight away. "Angela is beautiful," he says, "and she is good fun and very caring. It all felt very natural and easy from the beginning."
Angela says she noticed Rob straight away as she thought he was really handsome and great fun. "I was obsessed with him from the word go," she admits. "Rob has brought the best out in me, and always encourages me to explore beyond my comfort zone and broaden my horizons. I can get hyper but he makes me calm."
Angela grew up in Slane and has a Cypriot mum Christine, Irish dad Gerry and brother Geoffrey. After studying marketing at DIT and doing a post-grad in PR and event management, she interned at Fleishman Hillard and then worked in marketing at 98FM for five years before going to London. Rob went to New York in 2014 and Angela followed a year later. She and Rob now live in a penthouse in Midtown East, close to Times Square. They love it there, they say, although they miss their families back home, but they are lucky to be able to visit several times per year. Rob, who played GAA and rugby when he lived in Ireland, has even managed to find a Gaelic football team in the Big Apple.
One very exciting project that has kept him coming home recently is becoming one of the owners of Kennedys pub on Westland Row. He bought it with his brother John two years ago and another business partner, Brian Donohoe, but Brian has since sadly passed away. Kennedys was established in 1850 and the front part of the building used to be a grocery shop. Oscar Wilde earned his first shilling stacking the shelves there on Saturday afternoons, and he, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett were all patrons of the pub.
While preserving the traditional elements of the bar was important to Rob and John, they recognised the need to adapt an historic Irish gastropub to meet the needs of modern Dublin. "We added a cocktail bar downstairs for those who are looking for something a little different," says Rob. The new underground area is called Kennedy's Station, and it captures a bit of the old history of the area, especially the old Westland Row station, while showcasing a new, more modern look. The very cool new bar has already become popular as a party venue, and it serves food and, of course, cocktails.
Rob is hoping to make a new addition to his bar and restaurant portfolio every year, which is stressful at times and keeps him mega-busy. He is delighted that his brother John is on hand to run the pub, and says that Angela is a great help when it comes to helping him de-stress. He can be tough on himself, he says, but Angela focuses on the positives.
Equally, she says that Rob is great when she has the Sunday "fear", or is hungover, and is always on hand with a cup of Barry's tea. They are busy planning their wedding and say that their guests might have higher expectations, given their lines of work in hospitality and events, but the main thing is that they want the whole thing to have a relaxed vibe.
When it comes to having a family, the pair are very keen, but it's not on their immediate to-do list. "We are too busy living the magic and energy of New York city at the moment," laughs Angela.
Kennedys pub and Kennedy's Station, 30-32 Westland Row, Dublin 2. www.kennedyspub.ie