The Diary: Masterchef David serves up a romantic proposal
Laura Butler and Bairbre Power
While the social set may be resting after a busy Christmas full of swanky parties, a string of well known faces turned out to take part in First Fortnight.
Now in its fifth year, the two-week-long festival that aims to challenge mental health prejudice through the creative arts will today round out another programme after a packed line-up of events taking place around across Ireland.
This year the launch welcomed British pop artist Stuart Semple, whose artwork Happy Clouds is currently on display in Temple Bar, as well as actress and singer Tara Lee, playwright Sorcha Kenny and musician Aaron Smyth.
Award-winning director Lenny Abrahamson went along to the opening of Silver Linings Playbook, which has been running at various venues nationwide, and The Diary bumped into Irish 400m champion David Gillick at The Twisted Pepper on Tuesday.
Taking part in a session called 'Over the Bar', the 30-year-old -- Ireland's first ever Celebrity Masterchef winner -- was on cloud nine, after asking girlfriend and fellow athlete Charlotte Wickham to marry him while out walking in her native Sunderland over the seasonal holidays.
"I asked her dad permission four months ago and I knew I wanted to do it when she had her friends and family around her, so we were all over there for New Years and that seemed like the perfect time," a beaming David told The Diary.
"I wanted to propose down by a river near her house, but it was a little tricky trying to get her to come out at all because she kept saying she was tired.
"In the end, I managed to persuade her to come out with me in between the main course and dessert on New Year's Eve.
"It worked out really well, it was amazing."
They have yet to choose a ring.
"I wasn't brave enough to choose an engagement ring myself -- that was a big stress for me, so I ended up buying a Claddagh ring for the proposal," David admitted.
Poet Colm Keegan, songwriter Ger Kelly and playwright Peter Sheridan immersed themselves in a Milk and Cookies storytelling session at the Masonic Lodge, while RTé's Marian Finucane led the way on Thursday evening, hosting the sold-out No Room at the Inn debate on Wood Quay in the capital.
Social life takes a back seat as Kathryn gets set for 'Transformation'
We were delighted to see an incredibly svelte looking Kathryn Thomas host the fantastically festive Respect charity lunch at the Shelbourne Hotel over Christmas. But after a few weeks of overindulgence, including a sumptuous meal for 12 at her Dublin pad, the RTÉ presenter informed us that her social life will be taking somewhat of a back seat for the next three months, as she kick-starts the busiest time of her working year.
The 34-year-old was this week back at the helm of both The Voice of Ireland and Operation Transformation, and in between shows will be trekking around the country to film segments with the new dieting series' five leaders.
"It'll be pretty much a six-day week for me for the next while, but it's good because it keeps me out of trouble," she said.
"It's a really busy time for me, but I love it and it's enjoyable. I felt it was time to get back to work, I'd a fantastic Christmas, so it was time to hit the ground running."
Kathryn, who hails from Carlow, rang in the new year down the country with her other half, suave restaurateur Padraig McLoughlin.
The couple enjoyed a romantic few days in Ashford Castle and Kathryn told me it was the perfect calm before the storm that is fronting two programmes simultaneously.
What a Bash - perfect start to 2014 for Kate
She edits wedding magazine Bash so there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Kate O'Dowd's big day would be nothing short of fabulous.
Although the mother of one and her other half Brian Price had already said their 'I Dos' officially, they decided to seal their marriage with an intimate ceremony in front of family and friends on December 28.
"We already had the legal marriage done and dusted, but this was more a spiritual union, with a massive party for our dearest ones," she told The Diary this week.
With Kate knowing everything there is to know about how to stage a trendy wedding, she opted for the uber chic and recently relaunched Drury Buildings in Dublin's city centre.
And doubling up on the day, the happy couple held a short christening service for their son Teddy. A perfect start to 2014.
Under orders at Gowran Park
As the canapés and bottles of vino did the rounds, champion jockey Bryan Cooper, winner of a hat-trick of races at last year's Cheltenham, found himself a hot topic of conversation. There was plenty of congratulating to do following the formal announcement that Bryan will replace Davy Russell as stable jockey at Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud.
Jockey Danny Mullins, retained rider to Barry Connell, was in top form as he chatted about riding Our Connor at the forthcoming Cheltenham meeting, while racing matriarch Maureen Mullins took a turn about the room with racing trainer son Tony, himself a former victor on the track.
Chairman of Goffs Henry Beeby was there in person to confirm that Goffs will commit to a further four years as title sponsors of the prestigious Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park, much to general manager Eddie Scally's delight who used the opportunity to catch up with Kilkenny's GAA chairman, Ned Quinn.
As the speeches commenced, there was applause for the upcoming Goffs Thyestes Chase, helping kick off Gowran Park's centenary celebrations on January 23.
The race is recognised as one of the key highlights of the Irish National Hunt season, with the punters deeming it a 'trial' for Aintree.
A Kilkenny girl, model Karen Fitzpatrick has been lined up to judge the Most Stylish Lady on the day.
Take your pew for TradFest
Retirement certainly suits former Dubliners member John Sheahan, who seems to be busier than ever since the group officially came to an end a year ago.
The musician is currently putting the final touches to a soon-to-be published book of poetry, but took a night off this week to raise a glass at the launch of another year of the Temple Bar TradFest, in which he will take part.
The doors of the rarely used St Michin's Church were thrown open for the occasion, with the dimly lit altar posing as the perfect stage and performers and fans alike packed into the pews with a glass of wine in hand.
Frances Black, who belted out a couple of numbers on the night, said the festival is like the ultimate gathering for Ireland's folk music community.
"We don't see each other that often, but we'd consider one another friends; it's a real gathering, and at a time of year that's so quiet in every other area."
Artistic director of Temple Bar TradFest, Kieran Hanrahan, welcomed the guests in out of the rain as they arrived, with The Diary also spotting Altan's Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh in attendance. "We all tend to perform after hours together, as well as at the gigs during the week, so it's fantastic fun," Mairéad said.
"There is such a rich culture to this music and it's special when you can showcase it to people in your own country."
The festival itself will run for five days, from January 22 to 26, and the historical venues staging the events are equally as interesting as those who will be playing in them, with St Patrick's Cathedral and Dublin's City Hall among them.