Tuesday 28 January 2020

Alison's in Florence while Victoria's fab in Fulham

Alison Doody... high life in Portugal and Florence
Alison Doody... high life in Portugal and Florence
Tara Huxley-Blythe and Paul Wright; the two were introduced by Tara's sisters Lisa
Game of Thrones actor Liam Cunningham
Leo Varadkar with his nephews Alex and Eric. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Gardener Diarmuid Gavin
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

She has the life of Reilly. Or so it appears for the ex-wife of Gavin O'Reilly (remember him?), Alison Doody. It was only last month that the ex-Mount Anville pupil was enjoying the delights of the East Hamptons in a white kaftan and cowboy hat.

And in June, Alison was also enjoying herself in Quinta do Lago, Portugal. She continued the Life Of Reilly theme two weeks ago in Italy - being spotted in the Four Seasons hotel in Florence. The good life couldn't have been more pronounced, however, last week as she was spotted strolling in Dalkey. Where better?

Meanwhile, top Irish actress Victoria Smurfit was back in London from her adopted home of Los Angeles to film Marcella with Anna Friel.

It's been all go for the incomparable Ms Smurfit. She said: "Left work at 2am and headed to an old Fulham establishment, VQ, a 24-hour gaff I haven't been to for 20 years... because I'm hungry and I have a flight in a few hours so sleep is pointless... to find everyone sober and acting as if it's 4pm rather than 4am is a revelation and a relief on many levels.

"Also, am glad when I was 20 it was OK to fall in here with giggles in me. Life, it's all in the timing." Victoria should have Philosopher stamped on her well-thumbed passport.

House call for Dylan and his pal Liam

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Game of Thrones actor Liam Cunningham

Marco Pierre White will be in Dublin next week. How do I know this? Because he told me. The culinary godhead is due in the capital on Tuesday and Wednesday for meetings in his two restaurants here (Steakhouse & Grill on Dawson Street and Courtyard Bar & Grill in Donnybrook). Another chef of some note, Dylan McGrath, was in House on Leeson Street last weekend. He was letting off steam on Saturday night with his friend and House regular Liam Cunningham, aka Davos Seaworth, of Game Of Thrones. Meanwhile, in Xico on Lower Baggot Street, the Leinster rugby team had what you might call a team bonding session on the same night, arriving at 10pm and enjoying dinner.

Gavin prefers China over red tape of Cork Council

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Gardener Diarmuid Gavin

The locals might be wondering why the hills of Wicklow have not been alive with the sound of award-winning gardener Diarmuid Gavin waxing lyrically on Mother Nature these last few weeks.

I can now solve the mystery of that silence for them.

Gavin - who lives in the aforesaid idyll Wicklow with his lovely wife Justine and daughter Eppie - has been jetting across China designing parks for local governments in Beijing, Shenzhen and a resort development in Shanghai.

I can only assume the parks are as good as Gavin's sublime creation, The Garden of Pure Imagination in Dundrum Town Centre.

Having been in China three times this year already, and back again next month, Gavin told me on the phone that, "it is quite a sophisticated society.

"They know what they want. My role is to deliver. It's as if a whole new world of possibilities is opening. You get the feeling in China that anything and everything is possible."

Not least, perhaps, because "working with local government here in China through Cantonese is 1,000 times easier than dealing with the impenetrable officials from Cork City Council!"

When Gavin returns to Justine and Eppie next week, he will be jetting off again soon.

This time he will be filmed going down a canal in France on a barge with Tom Conti for a UK travel programme.

Tara falls in love with literally Mr Wright

Tara Huxley-Blythe and Paul Wright; the two were introduced by Tara's sisters Lisa

Tara! Tara! Tara! The one-time goddess of Bottom Drawer in Brown Thomas on Dublin's Grafton Street, Tara Huxley-Blythe has fallen head-over-Christian-Louboutin-heels for English civil servant Paul Wright.

"Fallen is right," she laughed. "Fallen in love."

Tara met Paul ("Mr Wright, literally") in Lytham, Lancashire. Her sister Lisa made the introductions. "And you can't get a better introduction than that!

"Paul is really handsome and extraordinarily kind. When my mother was really ill, he took such good care of her, me and our whole family," Tara said of her mother Lauren who passed away sadly late last year.

Tara's grandmother Nancy Duffin - who founded Bottom Drawer in Brown Thomas and died two years ago - is not far from her heart either...

"I'm driving around London in my late granny's convertible Mercedes, so there's a little bit of D4 glamour here with me," smiled Tara, who is now based in London.

What perhaps put the smile on her beautiful face was that she and Paul have just returned from a glam sojourn in Cap-d'Ail in the Cote d'Azur. "It was fab!" I don't doubt it.

Prior to swanning around swoonily in the south of France with her new beau, Tara was "lolly-gagging" around Cape Cope with her auntie Lisa Duffin and Tara's god-daughter Charlotte Duffin. After that, Tara jetted to New York, where she visited her Irish pal Natalie Gallagher Gorman.

I asked Tara if she knows anyone without smart double-barrelled surnames.

"Only you!" Tara laughed, adding that her double-barrelled Irish chum Natalie Gallagher Gorman married an American in Chateau Eza, in Eze, on the French Riviera in 2015. "I was the bridesmaid."

And she will no doubt be the bride, too, when Mr Wright soon bends the knee. I'll bet my bottom drawer, er... dollar on it.

Leo brings his two nephews to Croker

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Leo Varadkar with his nephews Alex and Eric. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Brendan Behan once remarked about seeing a sign that said 'Drink Canada Dry' - "So I thought I'd give it a shot". Leo Varadkar has returned from Canada with a dry wit.

An Taoiseach had barely disembarked from the plane from Toronto when I asked him the question that's on the lips of the nation: Is he making his annual trip to Electric Picnic this coming weekend? "Nope," he replied. "Other stuff on - an event for Jimmy Deenihan in Tralee and the All-Ireland Hurling Final. I'm taking my nephews" (twins Alex and Eric) "to Croke this weekend [today] for the Dublin game. I'm also heading up to Belfast for the women's rugby final on Saturday evening [yesterday].

"Otherwise it's all work, no play for the next few weeks." Doubtless, this won't make Leo a dull boy.

Sunday Independent

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