'Gordon, in a marriage you don't admit strangers to the bedroom."
That was the doubly ironic response of French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn to his UK counterpart Gordon Brown in 1999 when he rebuffed British efforts to join the deliberations of the Eurogroup.
Irony No 1 was that the UK consistently refused to join the EU single currency - but for many years demanded access to the group of finance ministers charged with co-ordinating it. Irony No 2 was the French minister's unfortunate choice of words given subsequent events in his own life leading to a series of sex scandals that ended a very promising career.
Tales of the Eurogroup - which Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe heads from Monday - are rarely so racy. But the ironies surrounding this group remain extraordinarily abundant.
From Monday, Donohoe must reconcile member states at war about whether access to a €750bn coronavirus economic recovery fund should have strings attached. There will soon be disputes over when and how to reimpose tough EU budget rules, temporarily suspended due to coronavirus devastation. There will be more general pressures to revise that rulebook framed in the mid to late-1990s as the EU now faces its biggest ever recession.
Despite Ireland's strong opposition to an EU role in framing tax laws, Donohoe must also play honest broker on a potential EU digital tax on big tech companies such as Facebook and Google, a levy he has opposed in the past.
And apart from all that he needs to raise the profile of this Eurogroup, which has sunk in recent years.
Given that he is to do that on an unpaid and part-time basis, while steering the Irish economy all the while, it must be tempting for him to ask: "Do ye want anything else with that now, lads?"
But, keeping those ironies coming, Donohoe and the Irish Government generally lobbied hard to get this prestigious post, which comes with a great deal of influence and access to information. It comes at a pivotal time for the EU and can, in a roundabout way, benefit Ireland.
In Brussels, it was quickly noted that "little Ireland" was yet again punching above its weight in the jobs stakes. Philip Lane, late of the Central Bank in Dublin, is now chief economist at the European Central Bank while Phil Hogan continues as EU trade commissioner.
Donohoe's new job as president of the Eurogroup is to head the 19 finance ministers whose countries use the euro. The group exercises political control over the single currency and related aspects of the EU's monetary and economic policy. The Irish minister's term is for two-and-a-half years with a potential to extend to a second term.
The history of the group invokes another series of ironies - not least from an Irish standpoint. It came about informally in mid-1998 just before the euro was launched on international money markets in January 1999. It grew in status from 2004 onwards under the leadership of its first president, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg premier and finance minister who went on to become EU Commission president. It was given legal status in the EU's Treaty of Lisbon in 2009.
There was considerable opposition to its establishment and growth in status and power, notably from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She rightly feared it would dilute the power of the bigger EU finance ministers' council, which groups all 27 member states and is called 'Ecofin' in the jargon.
Against that, when Nicolas Sarkozy became French president in 2007 he became a big fan of the Eurogroup, and a parallel structure of EU leaders from eurozone countries meeting regularly.
Sarkozy believed the Eurogroup could put in some of the missing economic co-ordination policies to underpin the single currency. Merkel dialled down her opposition. Ireland is among the member states that like only some of this - and Donohoe will take that ambiguity with him into the chairperson's seat.
The effort put in by Donohoe's two rivals for the position, settled by secret ballot of the 19 eurozone ministers on Thursday, tells us it is worth having.
Yesterday the favourite for the job, Spain's finance minister Nadia Calvino, told Spanish radio she had been "betrayed" by at least one member state that did not deliver as promised.
Mr Donohoe has been suitably emollient after his win, pledging to be an honest broker seeking compromise between the frugal states in the north - and those in the south seeking more social investment. He obviously came across as more convincing with this message than his other rival, Pierre Gramegna of Luxembourg, who on his second attempt, made much the same pitch as Mr Donohoe.
This was the genial Dublin Central Fine Gael TD's second big appointment in just 12 days.