Monday 26 August 2019

Mammy's boy Johnny Ronan, his ma and me

Wicklow businessman and property developer, Johnny Ronan, is a proud fundraiser for the Mustard Seed Communities, a charity committed to caring for the most vulnerable children in the world
Wicklow businessman and property developer, Johnny Ronan, is a proud fundraiser for the Mustard Seed Communities, a charity committed to caring for the most vulnerable children in the world
Meal appeal... Friends Aisling Gleeson and Alison Doody
Colin Farrell
Maia Dunphy will join husband Johnny after Christmas. Photo: David Conachy
Driving force... Luca Allen
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother, said Abraham Lincoln.

A not-quite-as-famous bearded wise man, but one who clearly feels the same about his own angelic mother is Johnny Ronan. I met him with his mother Pauline the other week.

I always had the impression of the internationally respected tycoon as being something of a hard, even foreboding soul. Au contraire, he is more of a big pussycat. Primarily, because he and I ended up hugging his beloved mother, especially after I said that she reminded me very much of my own dear, and sadly departed, mother Maureen. Discussing mothers in Cafe en Seine of a Friday evening? Johnny is evidently a post-feminist new man. He brings his beloved mama to Cafe en Seine, after all.

It was after a great day at the Mustard Seed Communities lunch across the road in Fire, at Mansion House. (With the help in Ireland of men like Billy Glennon, Seamus Lynch, Michael O'Reilly, and Cahir O'Higgins, MSC is a charity committed to caring for the most unsafe members of society, chief among them disabled and abandoned children in Jamaica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Zimbabwe; places where children with disabilities are routinely, and horrifyingly, abandoned.)

At the lunch in Fire, Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon (who started the charity in 1978) was full of praise for Johnny and all the assistance he has given him over the years.

The Monsignor even recalled staying at Johnny's house in Wicklow many years ago; and when he awoke, Johnny gave him an envelope with a donation to the charity, €25,000 in cash for the most vulnerable kids in one of the poorest parts of the world.

Clearly Johnny's mammy, Pauline, has raised him properly.

Lucca drives proud Rachel and Isaac to distraction

Driving force... Luca Allen

East Cork's - and LIFE magazine's - domestic goddess Rachel Allen normally drives us to distraction with her incredible recipes. It is her 15-year-old son Lucca who is driving her to distraction at the moment. And in a good way.

The prestigious UK-based Driver Club Management (DCM) has just signed the junior racing driver to its 2018 driver line-up.

"I'm very proud of him," Rachel told me from Mayfair in London where she presented the Good Choice Quality Food Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel last Thursday night. "He's incredibly focused and passionate about his Formula 3 and all motor sport. He's just very driven" - no pun intended, presumably - "in general but also manages to balance life well, I think, with doing what he should be as a teenager."

"It's great news," added Lucca's equally proud daddy Isaac of the deal with DCM.

"I'm very proud and thrilled that everything is going so well for Lucca. He's worked so hard over the last few years to get to where he is today. Being signed to a management company with the calibre and expertise of DCM will be a huge help going forward in his racing career."

VBFs Alison and Aisling bond over dinner in Luna

Meal appeal... Friends Aisling Gleeson and Alison Doody

A former Bond girl was bonding with her VBF last weekend. But then, I suppose, Alison Doody - for it is she: as Jenny Flex in 1985's A View to a Kill - bonds regularly with her pal, Aisling Gleeson.

With a view to a killer meal presumably, the two beautiful blondes lit up Luna last weekend. Enjoying some wine, Al and Ash, who are regular visitors, dined a deux on Saturday night in the impossibly trendy restaurant on Drury Street. Aisling, I'm told, recently celebrated a significant wedding anniversary to her beau, beef baron Gerry Purcell. (Meanwhile, Alison's daughter Alanna O'Reilly was looking as stunning as her mama in a flowing brown dress a few weeks ago at the eighth annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at the Will Rogers State Historic Park in Los Angeles.)

Last Friday week former Formula 1 demi-god and Norn Ireland bachelor king - who lives between his homes in Miami, New York and Milan - Eddie Irvine was in Luna with some pals, while award-winning Irish film director Neil Jordan was also there last week for dinner with French movie star Isabelle Huppert, who is co-starring with Chloe Grace Moretz in the new Jordan-directed movie The Widow.

Colin jets in from LA to check on his bro-in-law

Colin Farrell

It was movie stars on tap last weekend at the ultra-swish InterContinental hotel. Jude Law was staying there. But far more interestingly, Colin Farrell (above) was also on the five-star premises last weekend too. The greatest Irish actor of his generation jetted in from his home in Los Angeles to check on the health of his beloved brother-in-law Steven Mannion who was admitted to hospital with skin cancer. Colin also came over to support his equally beloved big brother Eamon. There was plenty of movie star glam over at the RHA Gallery, Ely Place last Tuesday night when Tesco Ireland launched its ab fab Christmas range with a wonderful evening of suitably great food, and, of course, Tesco's award-winning Champagne.

Maia off to Vegas for Christmas as Ryan in Bewley's

Maia Dunphy will join husband Johnny after Christmas. Photo: David Conachy

It's 43 days to Christmas. And most of us don't know whether we are coming or going yet. Maia Dunphy knows where she is going: to Vegas. Johnny Vegas, that is. But not immediately. Maia will be visiting Vegas, her husband, the hugely popular English comedian, in England a little after Christmas.

The author, broadcaster and bona fide multi-tasker explained to your diarist that Yuletide is "always a seasonal hot potato for us. I would say that with Tom," she said referring to she and Johnny's two-year-old son, "and I will be in Dublin and Johnny will be in St Helens [in England, where he hails from] as it is the first year without his beloved dad," Maia added, referring to Johnny's father Laurence Pennington, who died following a battle with cancer in March. "I'll head over to them all between Christmas and New Year. I think blissful New Year mini-breaks are a thing of the past with a two-year-old."

What perhaps takes the agony of losing a break away to ring in 2018 is that Maia has been nominated in the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2017 in the Popular Non-Fiction category for her book The M Word: For Women who Happen to be Parents. I'm feeling a similar sense of joy with the re-opening of two great Dublin institutions. First it was The Stella cinema in Rathmines and then the much-awaited Bewley's of Grafton Street. The restoration of the latter is meticulous perfection.

The Harry Clarke windows are glistening; the fireplaces are ready for Christmas and the bakery has a new public gallery. Acclaimed artist, Bewley's Paddy Campbell, hung a wonderful sketch of the legendary Tattens Toomey who reigned for many years as queen of our favourite cafe.

No wonder Ryan Tubridy has already been spotted.

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