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Westport House Picture: Fennell

Westport House Picture: Fennell

Fennell Photography

Westport House Picture: Fennell

Yes, Ireland has a two- speed economy, the Blackrock Market in south county Dublin and the rest of the country.

In between the stalls selling tat and bric-a-brac you will find one-star Michelin restaurant Heron & Grey, which recently celebrated its elevation to the ranks of the word's great restaurants by installing a water closet - although Zozimus still prefers to toddle to the urinal across the alleyway.

The restaurant has become the 'in place', despite basically being a wooden shed arrived at through a gloomy market entrance.

Foodies will be glad to know that Messrs Heron & Grey will be taking bookings on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of March for August, September, October and November.

If you don't get your booking on one of those three days you don't get to use their new toilet in 2017.

Although more accustomed to fish and chips in the Central Cafe, Zozimus dropped in last week for a bit of nosh. Liver mousse, not of the "liver slices fried with crust crumbs" James Joyce variety, an oyster and other delights including a little slab of duck was very fulfilling and the boys, Heron & Grey, appear to enjoy taking care of the 66 diners they accommodate every week.


Moya Doherty turned up in the Cellar Bar of the Merrion Hotel to take a restorative lunch after rubber-stamping the RTE board's decision to sell off half its land.

The state broadcaster is believed to be asking €70m for a parcel of land at Montrose. But while the board are worried that costs are "no longer sustainable", the minions in RTE are wondering where they'll be able to park their cars.

As Miss Riverdance departed she remarked: "Very nice, but I prefer Patrick Guilbaud." Don't we all!


It was a thing of beauty to hear Michael Ring cut the socks off Aine Lawlor on the RTE radio one o'clock news last Friday.

At the end of an interview she inquired, mock-innocently: "And minister, why didn't you go to meet people from Babestation in Westport yesterday?"

"It may be funny for you in RTE," fumed Ringer, "but it's not funny for old people in Westport getting phone calls at all hours of the morning."

For once an RTE presenter was left gulping for air.


It wasn't all bad news last week for Aryzta boss Owen Killian.

OK, shareholders in the bakery firm took a bit of a battering when they lost about a €1bn after some fuss about a frozen food business it bought in the USA. Zozimus wouldn't worry about that - after all if our Donald launches any more trade wars they'll probably all be eating frozen food over there.

The good news is that the scaffolding is finally coming down on the Killian pad at the corner of Shrewsbury Road and Merrion Road.

We've been observing the renovation of what will soon become Dublin's largest residence (21,000 square foot) from the top of the No 7 bus for years it seems.

But now the Killian Confection is beginning to emerge in all its glory. Killian bought the trophy home back in 2014 for €6.5m and since then the property has been assaulted on all sides by builders, excavating a double basement with a lift to take cars two storeys below the house, installing a swimming pool and gym, ripping off roofs and generally doing what builders do.

It's the type of pad every good son of Roscommon dreams about and all paid for on the back of buns.

We can't wait for the housewarming.


Speaking of trophy homes, isn't it good to see the Hughes family moving into Westport House? Once the bastion of the Marquess of Sligo, the old pile has now fallen into the hands of the unknown - outside Mayo that is - family, led by Cathal Hughes.

Before the 11th marquess died the Irish Senate passed a law allowing his wife and five daughters to inherit the property, while the title itself has sailed off to a male heir in Australia.

Unfortunately the Browne girls got into financial difficulty developing one of the top tourist attractions in the west and the house became Nama bound before it was off-loaded on Friday to the local business family, who also own Hotel Westport.

They originally had a shop in the town which became Charlie Hughes Ltd in 1941 and the second generation have gone into the workwear business on a global scale.

According to our man who watches such things they have outposts in Bangladesh and Poland and sell workwear all over Europe. With a turnover of €103m and profits of €12.5m last year, it seems like a sound business to be in.


The HSE seems to have more press officers than people on trolleys in one of our major hospitals.

But try getting a simple answer from them. On January 18, at the height of the Fair Deal Controversy, following Brendan Courtney's documentary on RTE We Need to Talk About Dad, we submitted three simple questions to the HSE press office on the Fair Deal, and how many people avail of it.

Put it in an email, we were told.

It's now 10 days later and still no answer.

When last we looked the HSE had five full-time press officers and at least 20 more, including firms of public relations companies looking after the various hospitals. That's what's called a breakdown in communications.

Sunday Independent