Friday 20 April 2018

The Edge: Siobhan and John take road to Morocco

Love story: Siobhan O'Connor and John Norton
Love story: Siobhan O'Connor and John Norton
Heroic lunch: Johnny Ronan
London success: Fashion designer Simone Rocha
Marbs lunch: Georgia Salpa
Model mum: Model mum Alison Canavan
Italian lake break: Mark Cagney was in Italy with his family
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Could we be looking at a future Dublin Housewife? I could be wrong, but Siobhan O'Connor and John Norton seem to be getting very serious and very loved-up.

So loved-up, in fact, that they could start their own romantic movement.

The one-time Gossip Girl on 98FM and her beau, Mr Norton, the producer of TV3's unlamented Dublin Housewives, are now living together in Clontarf - that swish coastal enclave on the northside of Dublin that is also home to Morah Ryan and Debbie Deegan.

"When you know, you know," Siobhan told me of her dashing other half.

She and John have just returned from a tender break in Castle Murray House in Donegal. And why not?

Mr Norton (an ex of Vivienne Connolly) and Ms O'Connor, who broke up with her husband two years ago, are one of Ireland's most glamorous couples, The pair are, the beautiful blonde told your diarist, "together over a year and a half."

As well as blazing an amorous trail across Donegal, they were in Marrakech in Morocco in July. "It was a very hot 44 degrees," she said, "We loved kite surfing in Essouira too but I got taken off in a gust of wind, practising on the beach Bridget-Jones-style!

"We are both really busy with our careers so we love to get away together," Siobhan continued, somewhat breathlessly.

"I'm just finished presenting the Ulster rally part of the 2015 Clonakilty Black pudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship - it goes out on UTV, TG4 and BT Sports - John is busy on two productions for RTE. So we try to fit in precious weekends away whenever we can," Siobhan added with, I dare say, renewed breathlessness.

Precious weekends away? Sure, don't they have the precious sensuality of living together in Clontarf to look forward to 24/7?

The new court of Sun King Johnny

The boys are back in town. Well, Johnny Boy and his crew of low-key sybarites certainly are, if last weekend is anything to go by.

Perhaps invoking Downton Abbey's Lady Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, most famous quote ("What is a Weekend?") Johnny Ronan began a luncheon last Friday in Marcel's on Merrion Row that looked like never ending.

This I say because 'twas something of a long lunch. This I can say without fear of contradiction because it was after midnight before the badger-coiffured epicure left the fine premises.

And this is precisely what makes Johnny Ronan a folk hero, isn't it?

His close coterie of pals who enjoyed the bling boulevardier's company - and doubtless the food and drink on offer at Giorgio Casari's latest establishment too - included at, various times throughout this legendary beano that later moved, unsurprisingly, to the bar of the restaurant, Gate Theatre artistic director Michael Colgan (who is in London all this week), Bellucci restaurant proprietor Robbie Fox, Games of Thrones star Liam Cunningham, aviation tycoon Des McEvaddy, contrarian chef Dylan McGrath, businessman Graham Beere and Redser - no, not me - Ronan Barry.

As one onlooker put it with an aplomb on a par with the aforementioned Dowager Countess - "It was like going back in time."

And that time we went back to in Marcel's was the cash-heavy centre point of the Boom circa 2006.

In 2015, though, it was officially the new court of Sun King Johnny.

A season of good news for Simone

She's the Ranelagh girl who's positively the talk of le tout London. Samantha Cameron and Rihanna  wear her clothes. She was also named Young Designer of the Year at the Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards 2014.

The Ranelagh girl is, of course, Simone Rocha.

She is about to open her first store in London, in suitably fashionable Mayfair. As if that wasn't enough good news for one girl - even one who is the daughter of Ireland's most celebrated fashion designer, John - Simone has another bit of good news, which she has been telling friends in London.

Still in London, former Fair City star Rachel Kavanagh had a baby girl, Esme Rose McGill, earlier this month, the second child for her and husband Shane. They live in London, where Rachel is the head of globally acclaimed beauty company, Glossy Box.

Aoibhin Garrihy, who was also a star in Fair City once upon a time, and is now an actress of international repute from Dublin to China (she played Jane Bennett in The Gate Theatre's production of Pride & Prejudice at the Hong Kong International Arts Festival in March of this year) as well as being the director of Actors and Reactors Speech and Drama School, tells me that she is planning a big day. She and her boyfriend John Burke's big day - that is. "Our wedding will be next year in John's hotel, Armada Hotel in Spanish Point," she told me, adding that, in the meantime, they're jetting to Club la Santa resort in Lanzarote "for a bout of healthy living, post-engagement celebrations," Aoibhinn said of their June 20 betrothal on the cliffs of Moher.

Georgia and Michele heat up Marbs

The Irish Models are taking over Marbella. Haven't they always, says you? Walking through Puerto Banús marina without bumping into one or two of the Irish Models is like walking through Dalkey without meeting Neil Jordan or Jim Sheridan.

Last weekend, Georgia Salpa and Michele McGrath were having lunch in Marbs. Virginia Macari, who lives locally with partner Kas and their baby Thor, later joined them.

Stunning Michele is on hols in Marbs with her boyfriend Cathal Pendred.

The beautiful Ali Chawke is also in Marbella on a well-deserved holiday - well-deserved because she runs Searson's pub on Baggot Street for her colourful daddy Charlie. She is with her husband Peter Morrissey and their kids.

Ali's mum Bernice also joined them while Charlie held the fort back in Dublin. They all are back in early September.

"Marbella is lovely," Ali told me. "Better than the rain in Dublin anyway!"

Judge Judy doesn't feel like that. She was in Marco Pierre White's restaurant in Dawson Street last Tuesday having lunch with a pal.

Alison signs big book deal

The Irish Models have gone bookish. Or at least one of their most celebrated exponents has. Alison Canavan has signed a book deal last month with Gill & Macmillan.

"I'm thrilled," she says, adding that the book, which will be out next March, is titled Minding Mum. "The new book is about mums - and minding mums," she say. "The book is also about my journey."

Alison's journey was sometimes along a lonesome road. "I started modelling when I was 15," the 37-year-old says. "I lived a completely unrealistic life. I was living in the States," explains Alison who moved to New York when she was in her mid 20 and began a seven-year relationship with Rob Francellos not long after she arrived in Manhattan. "We broke up just after Christmas, five and a half years ago." Alison flew home to Dublin and her family "to heal my heart" for what was supposed be two weeks. "And I'm still here," she says. What slightly complicated things was that when Alison arrived in Dublin from New York she was - unbeknownst to herself - carrying Rob's child.

James was born in the Coombe Hospital, September 16, 2011. It took adoring mum Alison, she told your diarist, "well into James being a baby to reach a level of acceptance about myself and my situation."

Ciao bello ... that's Mark Cagney on hols

He had a lovely face for radio - when he was on 2FM and 98FM. And Mark Cagney has a lovely face for TV as main man on Ireland Am on TV3.

His loveliness, therefore, can only be increased exponentially by the fact that he is on a thoroughly well earned three-week holiday in Desenzano del Garda with his even more lovely wife Audrey and family.

Italy is clearly close to the heart of the TV3 superstar - well, he is the station's only true star, isn't he?

"I did Latin at school and I fell in love with all things Roman," he told me on the phone from Italy.

"So I've been fascinated ever since. My first trip here was for the U2's Achtung Baby gig in Rome in 1993 and I have managed to go back every few years ever since, mostly through work, but it is the one holiday destination the whole family agrees on.

"Where else are you going to walk down a street with a 2,000-year-old building on one corner and an Armani shop on the other?" he asked rhetorically. "I don't know why but I never feel like a tourist here."

Sun-tanned and presumably looking fit and full of the joys of life, Mark was perhaps looking almost as good as Ireland rugby star Ian Madigan did in Residence in Stephen's Green last weekend with his gorgeous girlfriend Anna Kirwan.

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