Thursday 19 September 2019

It's Ballynahinch to Moscow for Debbie

Debbie with her daughter Sophie and her new son-in-law Tom on the couple’s wedding day in Ballynahinch Castle
Debbie with her daughter Sophie and her new son-in-law Tom on the couple’s wedding day in Ballynahinch Castle
Taking a break... Neven and Amelda Maguire
Rita Crosbie
Michael D shakes hands with actor Stephen Rea
Muireann O'Connell
Des Cahill
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

To Children With Love charity goddess Debbie Deegan - who has done so much for children in Russia for 20 years - had her unique child-with-love moment at Ballynahinch Castle, Galway, on Thursday. Her beautiful daughter Sophie got hitched in front of 130 guests.

"Sophie married Tom Aspell, her Connemara man," she told me last Thursday, adding that they met and fell in love in Clifden at an event for Debbie's charity four years ago.

"Ballynahinch Castle was their first date and so the wedding is here today. Sophie is the most beautiful special girl, inside and out. We were blessed with her. She's the calmest bride I've ever seen."

The mother of the bride might have a good reason not to be so calm, though. While Sophie and Tom jet off on their honeymoon, Debs flies this morning to Russia. Tonight in Moscow, she will be awarded the highest accolade a westerner can receive in Russia, The Order of Friendship. "Putin sends a car to the airport to get me at 4am and take me to his private hotel," Debs told me. "Four westerners are getting it, three business people from Spain, Italy, Cuba, and me! I'm thrilled and honoured. It's a huge deal there to get it."

On the subject of celebrations, restaurateur Ronan Ryan recently celebrated his birthday in the Algarve with his lovely wife Pamela Flood and the kids. Deirdre Kelly also joined them at the villa.

Still on the subject of celebrating, Rosanna Davison and husband Wes were in Rasam in Glasthule last Friday with her papa Chris de Burgh and mother Diane. The occasion? The belated birthday celebrations for Chris's 70th.


Neven turns up the heat in Algarve with Amelda

Taking a break... Neven and Amelda Maguire

A certain village in west Cavan went quiet for a few days last week. Leaving their award-winning establishment in Blacklion, MacNean House & Restaurant in very capable hands, Neven Maguire and his stunning wife Amelda flew to Portugal's Algarve. For once, Neven wasn't filming for one of his TV food shows. It was strictly a holiday with their kids Connor and Lucia because the children were off school.

Next week, the famous chef (whose new book Neven Maguire's Home Economics for Life is already a huge success) is heading south-east. To mark Kilkenny being "Foodie Destination of the Year", Neven and his producer David Hare have, happily, decided to record Neven's two Christmas specials in the city.

I'm also reliably informed that Neven will be filming with local food producers, cooking in Kilkenny Castle and at The Hole in The Wall, and is very much looking forward to the hospitality of the Newpark Hotel, and to turning on the city's Christmas lights.

As if that wasn't enough, Neven recently gave a cooking demonstration in Dublin in aid of The Down Syndrome Centre for 500 people - hosted by Miriam O'Callaghan - at Leopardstown Racecourse.

No wonder he needed a quick break...


Heigh-ho: Rita and Harry as Snow White & Happy

Rita Crosbie

Mae West quipped that she used to be Snow White but she drifted. On Halloween night, Rita Crosbie (above), who never drifts, dressed up as the beauty who takes refuge in the forest in the house of seven dwarfs. Rita took refuge in Cafe H on Grand Canal Dock. The fairest restaurateur of them all held a bash in her hip establishment for family and friends. "There was dancing in the restaurant. It was hilarious. All of us in Halloween outfits." Rita's famous husband Harry dressed up as Happy. Elsewhere,    one-time Hollywood actress, the beautiful Alison Doody (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, A View To A Kill) dressed her dog Coco up as a ghost. I've always said Alison's bark is way worse than her bite (joke!).


Michael D's fan club holds AGM at the Solomon

Michael D shakes hands with actor Stephen Rea

It was a bit of a foregone conclusion he'd walk it, anyway, wasn't it? So last Thursday week - on the night before the presidential election vote - Michael D could totes chillax as he pitched up at the Solomon Gallery with his wife Sabina for the John Behan Seven Ages of Man exhibition. It was formally opened by the artist Mick O'Dea, who coincidentally also painted the official portrait of Michael D two years ago. During his speech Mick flashed his "vote for Michael D" badge...well, it was the eve of the unveiling of Michael D's second term... sorry, I mean, the election.

From the reaction at the Solomon you'd think it was the rather colourful AGM of Michael D's fan club. Of which Michael D is, of course, the president. Only teasing, Michael.

The crowd to witness it all included the actors Stephen Rea and Stephen Brennan, the renowned Australian artist John Kelly (now living in West Cork), the sculptor Rowan Gillespie (whose sculptures of Irish convict women were launched by Michael D Higgins in Tasmania last year during his State visit to Australia) plus one of my favourite authors at the moment, Emily Hourican. This is to say nothing of Marie Heaney and her sister Ann Devlin. Marie had scooted up to the opening from their house in Wicklow where she was being filmed for a documentary on Seamus. She was telling John that the Human Chain sculpture he made for herself and Seamus was their most prized possession.

An old neighbour of mine, RTE's Bryan Dobson, who also owns some of Behan's work, was also present.


Iconic Eddie brings drive to Skoda's fashion show

Muireann O'Connell

SKODA, the car company that kept Pope Francis so fashionably mobile on his recent visit to Ireland, is sponsoring its first fashion show in Dublin later this month.

The Skoda Czech Fashion Show, in partnership with the Czech Embassy, is set to be a great night on November 29 at Dublin City Hall, not least because the show (to promote emerging and established Czech design talent) is produced by the iconic Eddie Shanahan.

Des Cahill

The Czech Ambassador to Ireland Petr Kynstetr is expected, along with 200 of Ireland's most stylish people, led by Today FM's Muireann O'Connell and beauty guru Ellen Kavanagh, and possibly RTE's Des Cahill.

Tickets are limited so visit to avoid disappointment.

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