South Dublin's jet set are back enjoying the sun
Yummy mummies are chilling out, sipping rosé while their husbands commute from the Dublin office, writes Niamh Horan
The sun is up, the Chablis is chilling and the shrimp is grilling on the BBQ - but the terraces and gardens of south county Dublin are notably quiet.
It's all happening across the continent this year as Dublin's jet set flock to their favourite summer destinations.
This weekend, Dublin Airport has confirmed that they have had their busiest summer in history - beating all Celtic Tiger records.
Gone are the days where it was a sin to crow about spending time in a summer home while the country reeled from the credit crunch. 'Vacation' is no longer a dirty word and it's become okay again to talk about summer plans.
But as one member of Dublin's society circle explains, a small handful never had it too bad: "For some it's gone from four quiet holidays a year back to the usual six."
He says commuting on weekend flights from Thursday to Monday is not uncommon, so businessmen can juggle work and play: "What you'll usually find is that the wife goes down to [their villa] for a few weeks with the other wives and their children and the husband will stay at home to work. In the evenings, he'll go out for a couple of pints with the lads and follow her down at the weekend."
He continued: "The people who were lucky enough to hang on to the second homes in the sun are now able to enjoy them again. Where they might have slipped away on the QT during the recession and told the kids not to shout about it in school, it's not seen as something to keep below radar anymore.
"The spirit of the country feels a bit lighter. People are no longer coy about enjoying themselves. You bump in to a friend or neighbour and the first question they ask is 'any plans'?"
One woman, who works in a southside Dublin boutique, says it is not unusual for wives to decamp for most of the summer to a holiday home or villa. "The playgrounds of private schools around south county Dublin have been swapped for the playgrounds of Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. In airports like Nice for example, you'll recognise every second person as Irish. You'll always bump in to someone you know at the carousel."
She continues: "The beach bars and restaurants and cafes will be full of groups of friends who know one another from home and will all meet up on holidays."
Another female socialite agrees: "What happens is one or two friends or families go somewhere one year and then they come home singing about how wonderful it was and then they'll encourage the rest to follow them down the next summer. Little society pockets of the Irish abroad build up like that."
So where is Dublin's southside finding solace in the sun? Aer Lingus have revealed the Irish top three year-round sun destinations are Malaga, Faro and Nice.
But the number-one destination for yummy mummies and their families has emerged as Quinta do Lago.With the constant 30-degree heat, five-star golf courses or sandy white beaches in Luz, Silves and Sagres, the Irish have brought the party to town.
Yvonne Keating, Miriam O'Callaghan, developer Joe O'Reilly, TV3's Colette Fitzpatrick, bankers, and wealthy retirees have all sought time out here.
Aer Lingus have put on three flights every day from Dublin to Faro airport to meet the demand.
You'll either find them on the beach or lounging at private pools in their luxury villas before glamming up and heading out for the night to towns such as Portimao and Lagos. It is now estimated that about 16,000 Irish people own properties in this part of the world. As one young socialite says: "They rent villas. It's rare to find them in the hotels. During the day the yummy mummies will all meet at CoCo and have their coffee where they can watch as the kids play golf. Then they go for their healthy lunch and juices at Pure, which is a favourite of Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy, when they're in town and then the afternoon is spent sipping rosé at Gigi's restaurant."
Gigi's, Conde Nast Traveller has described as "the ultimate lunch experience". Located between the sea and the Ria Formosa reserve; the only way to reach it is via one of Europe's longest wooden footbridges. But before you tuck into your caviar or lobster, you better be prepared to fork out for it, as the catch of the day is weighed in front of you and a leisurely lunch can set you back around €100 per person. But then, with five-bedroom villas asking upwards of €1.5m, the exclusive enclave is not for the light of pocket.
The south of France is another hot destination this summer. One Irish regular explains: "In Eze, Anjuna Plage is where the Irish hang out. You'll find the yummy mummies sipping cocktails and the husbands reading their papers as the yachts come in, while Villefranche is the new popular spot this summer and that is accessible by boat. Sometimes the Irish will head to Monte Carlo and Sass café is the 'in' spot for them there."
Marbella has always been a favourite of Dublin southside, and high-profile socialites are often entertained by Virginia Macari when they are in town. But as one southside lady explains: "For people who don't want the craziness of Marbella, Port d'Andratx is where a new wave of young Irish are popping up. You still have the boats and the shopping and it's low-key and classy and beautiful."
Marrakesh and Barbados are two more hot spots, while Ibiza is staying firmly on the agenda. Hotel Zaro and the Blue Marlin beach club attract the Irish here. Santorini in Greece is very popular this year - well-heeled southsiders can be found tucking into food at the famous Ambrosia & Nectar restaurant.
Tuscany and Lake Como in Italy are routine now for the Irish, while the Costa Smeralda's swanky restaurants, hotels and boutiques attract the Irish, who can be spotted in the uber-chic Ristorante Gianni Pedrinelli in the heart of Porto Cervo or Romazzino Beach Bar.