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Friday 17 January 2020

From newlywed bliss to family traditions - how Irish celebrities are spending Christmas

Celia Holman Lee for Oxendales
Celia Holman Lee for Oxendales
Holly Carpenter at the launch of Specsavers’ Darren Kennedy Recommends 2018 collection, held in The Woollen Mills. Picture: Anthony Woods
Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

Want to know how some of the best-known Irish celebrity faces spend Christmas Day? We asked them.

Celia Holman Lee, Businesswoman and TV Personality

“I kick off every year at Christmas with this ‘Celia’s Girls’ night. So this is all my friends, cousins, whoever comes to my home. That’s the beginning of December.  I love Christmas! We all meet up on Christmas Eve, all the friends, everybody else, the children. We all go to the fabulous pubs in Limerick. We just go," she told

“We go to midnight mass if we haven’t drank too much, then we wait until the next day.

"On Christmas morning - I have five grandchildren - so my daughter, my daughter-in-law, my son, they all come to the house. We love that. We always do presents. I try now to surprise myself a little bit more because I was forever always opening them but no. I used to open a few but definitely this year, whatever I get I won’t open until Christmas."

Ger Lee & Celia Holman Lee.jpg
Ger Lee & Celia Holman Lee at Brown Thomas Dublin at the launch of CREATE. Picture: Anthony Woods

James Kavanagh, Influencer and TV Personality

"I'm spending Christmas in my brother's house, he's in a new house. My parents live in a kind of lodge house beside his house. My parents and my brother have taken the role of hosting Christmas so I'll be up there with my sister and her kids. Everyone mucks in and kind of helps, we all have jobs to pull it together.

"My job is kind of to drink wine and supervise. I usually make the desserts. I'm very anti-traditional Christmas desserts. I'm not a fan of Christmas pudding or trifle. I hate raisins. Christmas is real raisin-y."

John and James Kavanagh with their mother Margaret. Picture: Mark Condren

Anna Geary, Athlete and Radio Host

"I'm going home to my parents house in Milford, Co Cork. Kev is coming down with me. Initially that wasn't the plan but we said it would be nice to spend our first Christmas together.

"I think Kev is delighted because you know when you're a guest in someone else's house and my mam is such a typical Irish mammy. He's probably going to be spoiled rotten.

"He'll probably be the golden boy down there. We've never actually ever had somebody in our house for Christmas other than the four of us and our dogs so it will be a different dynamic having someone else in the house, but he's family now it'll be lovely as well. It's our first Christmas as husband and wife so it will be lovely to spend it together.

"Christmas Day is very relaxed in my house, we get up, have breakfast, lie in our pyjamas, watch movies with chocolate, loads of food, general relaxing. I'm really looking forward to that, it's been a really busy year so I think Christmas is a good time to press pause."

Anna Geary at the RTE new season launch

Eileen Smith (aka Eileen the Style Queen), Fashion Influencer

“I go down to Limerick, my daughter Suzanne is in Limerick with her family. There’s just my husband and myself so we go down every Christmas there and we have a great time.

“We usually go out and about a good bit while we’re down there, visiting and meet up with our friends and go out to the sales maybe after Christmas.

“Their children are grown up, they’re sort of 18 to 22 so they’re all adults. They have a great time as well. We all enjoy it. We play board games in the evening if there’s anyone around, or watch something on television, take it easy. Have a few glasses of wine, relax.

“The next day Suzanne always likes to go out to this park she has near her to bring the dogs. We go for a big long walk. It’s a great way of getting over Christmas day.

“I do like to help out with the Christmas dinner. I usually bring down some cake. They used to be for the children, but they’re not longer for the children - there’s no use putting little teddy bears on them or anything like that now. Suzanne is a great cook and her husband is as well. They like to do it out of the way, I just do what I’m told at that stage.”

Irish Instagram star Eileen Smith, aka Eileen the Style Queen. Picture: Instagram

Brent Pope, Rugby Pundit

"My plans are a bit sad actually in a way. I'll be spending it on my own in my house because I lost my dad this year. People have been really kind and generous to me but I've just decided to be by myself. I'm going back to New Zealand on 26 December. Unfortunately I couldn't get flights out to make it in time for Christmas Day.

"I'll cook myself up a turkey, have a glass of wine and enjoy the day. I might watch This Is Your Life or a film like Love Actually.

"I kind of am a Love Actually fan at Christmas time I have to say. I quite like Hugh Grant Christmas type of movies. I like the old rocker in it."

Rugby pundit Brent Pope has struggled with anxiety throughout his life. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Cassie Stokes, Broadcaster

"This year, all my family are actually coming home which is amazing because last year we were all kind of spread out between Canada and London.

“Now, they’re all going to be here. Last year my mum and my sister went to Canada and I stayed on my own.

“This sounds hilariously sad but and everyone always says, ‘Oh my god, that sounds awful,’ but it was actually really cute. I got to stay with my family dog who has since passed away. It was his last Christmas and we got to spend it together so it was really cute.

“But this year, the whole family are coming over, we're going to have about 40 people I think at the Christmas dinner. There'll be lots of games and laughing and I'm sure a few little arguments here and there - especially if I'm asked to clear the table!"

Cassie Stokes pictured at the Camden Exchange. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Holly Carpenter, Former Miss Ireland

"I usually just stay at home with family. There's only four of us; my mum, my dad and my brother - he's two-and-a-half years younger than me.

"I feel like with my job, there's just so much social stuff on in the lead up that I'm dressed up and going out for the whole month of December, probably November too. By the time it gets to Christmas week, I don't even want to put makeup on. I literally just want to wear my onesie and eat whatever I want.

"I think last year I had Dancing With The Stars hanging over me. I knew that was going to have to fit into costumes in January so I wasn't able to go as ham as I usually do."

Holly Carpenter .jpg
Holly Carpenter at the launch of Specsavers’ Darren Kennedy Recommends 2018 collection, held in The Woollen Mills. Picture: Anthony Woods

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