Monday 16 September 2019

Victoria is like 'giddy teen' with 'new fella'

Irish actress Victoria Smurfit, who split from filmmaker Alistair Ramsden at the start of the year, is all loved-up in LA
Irish actress Victoria Smurfit, who split from filmmaker Alistair Ramsden at the start of the year, is all loved-up in LA
Alan and Karl
Literary endeavour: Kathleen Watkins
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Victoria's secret? Victoria Smurfit might be one of Ireland's coolest actresses, but even she couldn't keep this secret for very long from your diarist. (Who'd want to, I hear you all ask?)

She is seeing someone after splitting up from film-maker Alistair Ramsden at the start of this year. "Who knew pure happiness could turn you into a giddy teen?" she told me exclusively.

I'm glad that the beautiful Irish actress, who rose to international fame (The Beach, About A Boy, The Run Of The Country, Once Upon A Time, Marcella etc) since playing yer wan Orla O'Connell in the BBC's Ballykissangel in the late 1990s - and now lives in Los Angeles with her three children - is all loved-up. Victoria also told me that she is going to London "with my new fella" in two weeks' time.

Lucky fella. He's kissing an angel.

Steve Staunton is also a lucky fella. The former Ireland player (102 caps) and manager, and Liverpool great, was spotted checking into swish Johnstown Estate Hotel & Spa last Sunday week with his stunning wife Lynda.

How do I know that he was staying in the Co Meath hotel that has become the opulent go-to-spot-on-the-edge-of-Dublin for celebrities? Because your diarist was having afternoon tea when I spotted him and lovely Lynda checking in. Doubtless, the Drogheda legend enjoyed his stay at The Johnstown Estate.

Meanwhile, former 'It' boy Gavin Lambe-Murphy is not staying in Ireland. He has been decamped (and Gavin is nothing if not camp, is he not?) to Monaco since May. He tells me that he has been appointed Editor At Large of a trendy lifestyle app, Urbanologie.

"I am chuffed to join the team as their man on the ground in Monaco. My partner lives there. He's an Italian cosmetic surgeon. We have been together just over a year. We met at a party in Milan through mutual friends."

Life gets even sweeter for sugar daddy Mark O'Keeffe

It's official. Brown Sugar supremo Mark O'Keeffe is due to become a sugar daddy again, with his partner Aimee set to produce a sister or brother for Riley next year. Mark, of course, is a dad to four children: Charlotte (12), Isabella (10), Ely (9) and the aforementioned Riley (5).      This isn't the only arrival in Mark's life as he is due to open an outpost of his bling barber shop, Sugar Daddy, in the revamped Frascati Centre in Blackrock in the New Year, along with his first nail and beauty bar, Sugar Coated.

Life is sweet.

Norah still single as she takes to the sea in Miami

Mystifyingly, the gorgeous Norah Casey is single. "No man in my life," the broadcaster and entrepreneur told me, before adding with a laugh: "I'm too busy to even think about it, to be honest."

Busy is right. She is off to Miami the week after next for a christening. Not of a baby, I hope you understand, but of a billion-dollar cruise ship called Celebrity Edge. "We're going on a three-day mini-cruise to try out the 29 restaurants and bars," the former Dancing with the Stars star told me of dining with the stars in Miami. "It's pretty cool."

When she gets back on dry land, Norah will be flying to New York to meet up with Irish Studio, the new owners of Irish Tatler and Food and Wine magazines. "It is the one-year anniversary of the sale last December. It's hard to believe. I am chair emeritus of Irish Studio, I still have Woman's Way." (Is there any other way, as I always say to my wife.)

On her return to Ireland, Norah will be spending Christmas with her son Dara (who will be celebrating his 20th birthday on December 17), her mother Mags and her brothers Ciaran and Leo in Lough Rynn Castle in Mohill, Co Leitrim. I don't believe in making mountains out of Mohills, but maybe Santa will bring Norah a man?


Alan and Karl ready for panto after cruise on Med

Alan and Karl

A life on the ocean wave? I am sensing a theme to this week's column. The incomparable Alan Hughes and his husband Karl, right, took to the sea last week around the Med on the MSC Seaview. The Ireland Am star and his director beau embarked on a seven-day cruise. "It was a lovely trip," Alan told me. "We went to Naples then Malta and Genoa. It was great fun. I was filming but we still managed to get some relaxing time. We would definitely go back." But not before Alan stars in the Cheerios panto at the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin. Snow White & The Adventures of Sammy Sausages and Buffy has its opening night on December 4 and runs until January 13. "We start rehearsals on Tuesday. It's our fastest selling panto ever."


Gay and Kathleen book their place for nights out

Literary endeavour: Kathleen Watkins

Do they ever stay in? Every night seems to be a late, late show for Gay Byrne and Kathleen Watkins, officially Ireland's most-loved couple. They are out on the town more than most social columnists. Take last week. On Tuesday night, they went to a certain book launch at Dunnes Store head office on South Great George's Street.

Gay was in fine form, and fettle - even laughing out loud when someone joked that Pat Kenny was his love child. The book in question was, of course, Kathleen's Happy Christmas, Pigin!, which was launched by Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell. On the following night, Gay and Kathleen made their way to another book launch. This time, not their own.

Ireland's most-loved couple made their way to The Bailey off Grafton Street for the unveiling of Omey, James Morrisey's sixth book. Riverdance producer John McColgan launched the book, "a history of the unique tidal island in Connemara". John and James reminisced about pop culture when John was working with Radio Eireann in Henry Street and James was juggling between journalism at Spotlight and studies at UCD. Blonde PR goddess Rhona Blake managed the proceedings in her own inimitable style. As well as Gay 'n' Kathleen - and a large contingent from Connemara - other guests at James's soiree included Ciaran Haughey, Marian Finucane, Jim Fahy (the legendary RTE western correspondent of yesteryear), Hugh O'Flaherty, and Professors Michael O'Keefe and Frank Powell from the Mater Private. Kathleen told me she and Gay are in Cork this week.

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