My introduction to Terry Keane came when she walked into the old Dobbins restaurant for a press reception some time in the early 1980s with an equally glamorous female companion. There was an understandable lull in the conversation until a voice, coming from their direction, demanded: "Who do you have to f**k to get a drink around here?"
erry traded on her reputation and to some extent her connection to Charlie Haughey, the most notorious, colourful and able politician of his generation. She was a fashion writer for the Sunday Press, later moving to the Sunday Independent where she wrote the infamous 'Keane Edge' gossip column. Her tempestuous relationship with Charlie Haughey was well-known in media and political circles. But they were discreet, conducting their affair in the private rooms of expensive restaurants or the homes of a circle of mostly well-heeled female friends of Terry. While it was to become the most notorious love affair of a generation, it was also very private by today's standards.
In the Sunday Independent I came to know Terry a little better and always liked her, but in truth, I was in awe and even slightly afraid of her. But like most reasonably well informed observers, I was intrigued by her relationship with her lover Haughey, the 'Sweetie' of so many 'Keane Edge' columns in the years that followed.
The Terry Keane of the television series 'Charlie' seems to me to capture her imperious nature, her devil-may-care attitude, her slightly clipped Anglo accent and the access she enjoyed.
Haughey also seemed to secretly enjoy the 'Sweetie' persona. She had a hotline to the Fianna Fáil leader and sometime Taoiseach during those heady days of the late 80s and early 90s that led to some incredible stories.
But he certainly did not enjoy the denouement, when Terry finally went on the 'Late Late Show' and burned all the bridges between them with her 'tell-all' confession to Gay Byrne. The following morning, a Saturday, I spoke to him, he sounded like a man whose life had fallen apart. They never spoke again and I have always felt that Terry made a mistake that destroyed a vital part of both of them.
The Terry I knew during those years certainly added to the gaiety of the nation. The 'Charlie' series has revived a famous affair, but nothing today could capture the frisson of excitement it engendered back in those now almost forgotten days when what Eamon Dunphy called 'official Ireland' kept its secrets to itself and the ordinary people, and the FF footsoldiers, were kept in ignorance of the secret life of the man they called The Boss.