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The Edge: Love and joy reign for design queen


Top of the fashion ladder: Helen Cody, feted at the Kilkenny Fashion Week. Photo: Gerry Mooney.

Top of the fashion ladder: Helen Cody, feted at the Kilkenny Fashion Week. Photo: Gerry Mooney.

Publican Charlie Chawke with his daughters Ali (left) and Jenny at Searsons

Publican Charlie Chawke with his daughters Ali (left) and Jenny at Searsons

Daithi O Se - not predicting a future career for his son as a jockey

Daithi O Se - not predicting a future career for his son as a jockey

Star power: Jamie Dornan was in 37

Star power: Jamie Dornan was in 37

Model Michelle McGrath was in the House

Model Michelle McGrath was in the House

Terrace talk: Model Karean Graham was in the House

Terrace talk: Model Karean Graham was in the House

China bound: Michael Mulcahy and Vera Whelan are heading to the Orient to mark their anniversary. Photo: Gerry Mooney

China bound: Michael Mulcahy and Vera Whelan are heading to the Orient to mark their anniversary. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Rhona Blake of FleishmanHillard

Rhona Blake of FleishmanHillard


Top of the fashion ladder: Helen Cody, feted at the Kilkenny Fashion Week. Photo: Gerry Mooney.

Courage, someone wiser than me once said, is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount.

Helen Cody, perhaps more so than any other Irish designer, embodies courage. She went through the unimaginable agony of her new-born baby Ethan dying in July, 2003, the subsequent end of her relationship to the child's father Simon Arnold, the two miscarriages she had during her marriage to Matthew Anglin in the late Noughties in France, and then the end of that marriage, sadly.

The magnificent Ms Cody came out the other side, eventually, and returned to Ireland and the top of the fashion ladder.

So your diarist is delighted that Helen won The Irish Designer of the Year at the Kerry Fashion Week Irish Fashion Industry Awards 2015 on Friday night in the Europa Hotel in Killarney.

Helen was all definitely loved-up on the evening with her boyfriend Rory Murphy. "He's wonderful!" Helen told me, adding with a laugh that "I'll be jinxed" if she says any more about her architect beau. "We are just so low-key."

When I put the thumbscrews on her, the designer did admit that she and Matthew are returning to Kerry next Sunday to enjoy a weekend sojourn in The Park Hotel.

The Kerry-on in the Kingdom is ostensibly a working hol for Helen because she will be bringing her other half, she told me, to the Kenmare Lace Festival.

I swear Helen actually hooted with laughter when I told her I thought she said The Kenmare Lay Festival. But I digress.

Ireland's most romantic - if low-key - couple were spotted dining a deux in The Unicorn restaurant on Merrion Court on a recent Friday.

The designer who made that famous dress for Stephanie Roche wasn't so low-key about winning the award in the Killarney two nights ago however.

"It is so fantastic, because I'm only back in Ireland designing for 18 months," she gushed.

"It means so much that my clients came back and supported my business."

"Irish women love to support Irish designers. I am just so happy to be able to continue to do something I love. I am just so happy to be acknowledged with this award."

Happy Helen added that she had plans for a big show in August ("the ideas are still in my head!").

In the meantime she will be opening a pop-up shop on Drury Street in Dublin 2 from March 10 to 15.

Carol, you could be running the country

For the few remaining cavemen out there, some news. Today is International Women's Day.  So I thought I'd give a mention to the 30% Club, an inspirational global movement which has been established in Ireland to make sure 30% of board members of the top 25 companies here are women by 2020. The Founding Chairs of the Club include the blue-blooded likes of Lochlann Quinn and  Nicky Hartery, but this club also boasts a Steering Committee of some of Ireland's most inspiring professional women. And they certainly did hit the ground running when it came to speaking engagements to mark International Women's Day.

Your diarist ran into the esteemed Carol Andrews of BNY Mellon during the week in The Marker hotel in Grand Canal Dock.

I was having my usual Wednesday liquid lunch (sadly nothing more alcoholic than a big bottle of Ballygowan) with the incomparable Rhona Blake. She and Carol are both on the steering committee of the 30% Club.

Anyway, Carol was telling me that last week was all go in the run-up to International Women's Day. While Brid Horan was chairing a Mercer and 30% Club Breakfast Seminar at the Conrad Hotel, Paula Neary from Accenture was hosting a conference for 1,000 women at The Convention Centre and Anne-Marie Taylor was addressing the Institute of Bankers.

I hope these bankers were all listening. Because from where I'm sitting, these ladies (along with Marie O'Connor from PWC, Ann Heraty of CPL and Rachel Hussey from Arthur Cox) will get the job done way before 2020 if you ask me. They already have close to 100 of Ireland's top companies signed up as supporters.

Carol is in hedge funds at BNY Mellon and I'd be very happy to have her hedging my bets any time. But then again, she could be running the country. It's in her blood, sillies. She is part of the great Fianna Fail Andrews dynasty.

Engaging times for Charlie Chawke's daughter Jenny

I'll wager a bottle of beer that Charlie Chawke is currently  the happiest publican in the land. . .

And it is nothing to do with the merry sound of ringing tills behind his bars.

Though it does have something to do with a ring.

On the foot of last week's news that his daughter Ali and her husband, the debonair Peter Morrissey, are expecting their second child, Charlie now has even more reason to celebrate.

His other daughter Jenny got engaged on Tuesday to her boyfriend of three years, the dashing Rory Burgess.

How do I know this? Because someone very close to Jenny told me. You'd have to fill me full of alcoholic beverages to get the name out of me.

As if the engagement wasn't cause enough for Jenny - who runs The Goat pub in Goatstown while her equally gorgeous older sister Ali runs Searsons on Baggot Street - to crack open the champagne, Tuesday was also Jenny's 30th birthday.

So drinks were presumably on the house again in all Charlie Chawke's many fine premises across the land last Tuesday.

Another grandchild on the way - and now another wedding to plan for? Exciting times for Charlie, or what?

Ali's wedding in Doonbeg Golf Club in September, 2012, with 300 guests in attendance, must have cost a pretty penny . . . to say nothing of the two honeymoons, (St Lucia and Dubai)

Maybe Jenny might try to go one better than Ali and have three honeymoons this time around. St Barts? South Africa? And the South of France?

Let's drink to that.

Daithi reckons our Gold Cup could runneth over

Oh, to be Daithi O Se. The TV star and national heartthrob is having a "lads, day" in the West this  Friday to watch the Cheltenham Gold Cup with a gang of his friends.

Normally, Daithi goes to Cheltenham every year for the meeting, but he is too busy with work commitments and new baby to travel over this year.

So a night on the tiles in Galway for Daithi - who lives in nearby Salthill with his former New Jersey Rose Rita Talty - will have to suffice.

"We had a very good Cheltenham last year so we are hoping for the same," he told me, adding that this is AP McCoy's last Cheltenham.

"So we are hoping for big things from AP too. I think the Irish will have a great festival, which will lead on to a great St Patrick's Day."

A great St Patrick's Day is a given in the O Se house. He and Rita's son Micheal Og was born on that day.

"My young fella will never be a jockey as he eats more than most of them put together," Daithi laughed.

Simon Carmody Community heralds end of the recession

The recession is officially over.  The reason I can say this with such cast-iron certainty is that there has been a sighting of The Simon Carmody Community in 2015.

This momentous occasion occurred in Bellucci's Italian Restaurant & Cocktail Bar in Ballsbridge last Sunday night after the big game. Guggi joined the eponymous Carmody to have a drink at the bar. My Deep Throat spotted the artist's long flowing locks.

Annette Rocca's brunette locks were also spotted that day. She was in with a female friend for a bite to eat at lunchtime.

Sporting legend Mick Galwey came into Belluci's for a pre-match lunch with Redser (no, not me - this Redser is aka Ronan Barry) and four other male friends. The previous night in House, former England international rugger star Will Greenwood was in with some male friends.Also in the same night, but in a different part of the establishment on Leeson Street, were models Michelle McGrath and Karena Graham.

The darling duo sat on the terrace and sipped prosecco. The BBC's John Simpson and his wife were in Chapter One on Parnell Square with another couple last weekend. Members of the Jordanian Royal Family were in the previous week to sample Ross Lewis's famous fare.

A member of the Westlife royal family, Nicky Byrne, and his wife Georgina were in 37 on Dawson Street for dinner last weekend. They stayed late on the Friday and soaked up the busy Six Nations atmosphere. TV star Brian Dowling was in the same night with some friends.

The big news for the women of Ireland is that Jamie Dornan of Fifty Shades Of Grey fame was in 37 on Tuesday night, looking very cool. RTE's Kathryn Thomas was looking similarly glamorous when I met her in the Marker last week.

Fifty shades of glam?

China in the autumn for Michael Mulcahy and his beloved Vera

Most of us will perhaps celebrate anniversaries with our significant others in a restaurant in town if we're lucky.

Most of us, however, are not Michael Mulcahy, who has walked naked through the streets of Galway and brought plastic ducks for a walk through Stephen's Green.

Ireland's answer to Salvador Dali, Mulcahy, and his lovely girlfriend Vera Whelan, a stained glass artist from Wexford, will be jetting to China in October to mark their fourth anniversary (To celebrate their third anniversary last October, they went as far as the Spice restaurant in Monck Street in Wexford.)

Vera hasn't seen Michael for ages, though. No need to worry. They haven't broken up. No - Michael's been in Paris with his daughter. "Fiona turned 17 last Friday," Vera told me from Wexford where she is minding her mother "and feeding 34 baby calves." She added that Michael was, post Charlie Hebdo, concerned about what happened in Paris. "So he's been there for the last two months. He is with Fiona" - his daughter from a previous relationship with Adrianna - "and working away. He has just got a big commission."

As for China in the autumn?

"Oh, Michael is dying to go. He feels big, beautiful coloured paintings will do very well out there. . ."

Don't we all?

Yes, we Cannes, says Rhona

Last Monday, Cannes came to Dublin when Rhona Blake and the team at FleishmanHillard got their 25th Anniversary celebrations underway at The Waterways on Grand Canal. Not quite La Croisette in Cannes, but I digress.

The real action at Cannes each year is actually the Cannes Lions Festival when the creme de la creme of creative gurus rendezvous at Cannes. Bono has spoken at the festival. But don't let that put you off.

So last week, Phil Thomas, the Head of the Festival, came to Dublin to talk about how to win at Cannes. He wasn't able to tell FleishmanHillard anything new, however, because it is the only PR company in Ireland to have won a Cannes Lions - the public relations equivalent of a Palme d'Or, your humble diarist understands.

FleishmanHillard received the gong for the 'P&G Proud Sponsor of Mums' campaign. And as I'm now one of P&G's best customers from buying lorryloads of Pampers for my new daughter, I couldn't think of a better reason to win. The beautiful Rhona and her team will be jetting to Cannes again this June but before that they'll be hosting their 25th Anniversary Party. Rave on, Rhona

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