Society: A hatless Jackie at the Irish Derby
Wednesday's launch party of the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby which takes place at the Curragh on Saturday, June 27, was a big hit, and Astrid Brennan's fervour at putting the Child of Prague statue out paid dividends as we enjoyed a splendidly dry evening and a blue sky view from the Marker's rooftop bar.
The star of the night was undoubtedly 88-year-old Mrs Jacqueline O'Brien, wife of the late trainer, Vincent, who regaled us with stories of his six Derby winners.
Sadly Jacqueline will miss the 150th Irish Derby because she is attending the wedding in Portugal of her grandson, son of David O'Brien, whose horse, Secreto, famously beat his dad, Vincent's El Gran Senor at the Epsom Derby in 1984.
We chatted about the visit to Ballydoyle of Jackie Kennedy who enjoyed a month-long family holiday at Woodstown, Co Waterford in 1967, during which time the British paps were poised to capture her doing her 200-yard windsprints across the lawn at 7am followed by a 9.30am swim on the public beach and a gallop on her mare.
As the world's most photographed woman, the interest in her romance with Lord Harlech, a former Ambassador to the US, was immense, and as the Chicago Tribune reported at the time, "the 'IN' word in Dublin is that romance is blossoming between the two".
During Jackie's visit here, a year before she married multi-millionaire Ari Onassis, she attended the Irish Sweeps Derby accompanied by Taoiseach Jack Lynch and his wife Máirín, but was slapped on the wrists by US journalists reporting on her Derby visit for being "conspicuously hatless".
The launch party featured a Best Hat on the Night prize, and I chose the very elegant Jane Givens, who teamed up her silver Victoria Beckham dress with a snazzy Philip Treacy - the outfit she wore to Ascot last year. She was enjoying a girlie night out with VBFs Annette Rocca and Celia Holman Lee.
I met Amanda Byram, official Style Ambassador for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, who looked trés chic wearing Umit Kutluk and diamonds from Boodles. They are one of the partners in the valuable €20,000 Most Stylish Lady prize, the winner of which will enjoy five nights in Dubai Duty Free's five star hotel, the Jumeirah Creekside.
I caught up with fellow style judge, Melanie Morris, editor in chief at Image Publications, Sinéad El Sibai, marketing whizz at Dubai Duty Free, Rhona Blake from FleishmanHillard and Madeline Mulqueen, fresh from the red carpet at Cannes where she sizzled in scarlet John Rocha, accompanying her beau, Jack Reynor.
Civil partnership enough for Michael
By Joanna Kiernan
Michael Murphy and his partner of over 30 years, Terry O'Sullivan, have no plans to avail of civil marriage.
"If they grant an upgrade for civil partnerships, we will probably go for it," Michael laughed, when asked if another celebration might be on the horizon.
"We are happy as we are, but the passing of the referendum was absolutely wonderful."
You could hear a pin drop as the best-selling author, veteran broadcaster and psychoanalyst took to the stage for the closing day of the Listowel Writers' Week on Sunday.
Michael has two more Irish dates for his Stories, Poetry and Dreams show - at the Dalkey Literary festival next week, and in his home town Castlebar, where he will be joined on stage by his long-time friend Máire Geoghegan-Quinn in July. Exciting plans are now afoot to take the production to the US.
Fast horses and fashionable ladies
By Bairbre Power
Sir Mark Todd was a happy man as his horse won the George Mernagh Memorial CIC3* class at the 10th anniversary Tattersalls International Horse Trials and Country Fair last weekend.
He rode around the scenic Co Meath course with such assurance, but then again, he did win his fifth Olympic medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.
The New Zealand horseman was voted Rider of the 20th Century by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, and in the New Year Honours 2013, Todd was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to equestrian sport.
It really was a splendid five days at Tatts and I had the pleasure of doing the course - not on a horse, mind you, but in a golf buggy, piloted by Tatts' event co-ordinator Joanne Quirke - as I spotted potential winners in the Most Stylish Couple competition.
Ab Fab star Jennifer Saunders was just one of the celebrity visitors and clearly loved the event, going home with lots of Balsamic vinegar, I'm told.
Jennifer didn't actually have a horse competing but was supporting her rider, Piggy French, who finished fourth in The Irish Field CCI3* class.
I bumped into Roger Casey, CEO of Tattersalls and amongst those who attended the event over the weekend were Minister Simon Coveney, Craig Doyle from TV3 and his family, Barry and Paula Geraghty, Paul Carberry and Rachel Clarke.
Also there were Regina Doherty, Jessica Harrington, Tamso Doyle, Sir Nick and Alice Nugent, Lord and Lady Carew, Gordon Elliott and jockey Bryan Cooper, who was voted 2013 Ireland's Sexiest Man in RSVP mag.
Paul Corson, sales manager of Dubarrys, presented the prize for the Most Stylish Couple to Eva Hayes Morrissey and her husband Paul, from Limerick (pictured right).
If Eva looks familiar, it's because she was a regular winner at the Best Dressed Lady competitions on the racing circuit. However, as Paul and herself are now into eventing, riding their horses Zeus and Lavella at weekend competitions, Eva isn't racing - they are now for a different type of horse competition.
I'm very excited at the prospect of judging at Ladies Day at the 2015 Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show at the RDS on Thursday, August 6.
Dundrum Town Centre have announced their title sponsorship of Ladies Day and the Best Dressed Lady will walk away with a prize package worth €10,000. There's also the HP Most Colourful Outfit, Great Lengths Most Creative Hat, Best Dressed Man and Longines Elegance is an Attitude.
Claudia tells it like it is with Clelia's acting
By Joanna Kiernan
They may be on-screen love rivals, but in reality Fair City actors Clelia Murphy and Claudia Carroll are bosom buddies.
In fact, Claudia was a big support to Clelia in what she described as her "most terrifying" role to date - singing and dancing her heart out alongside Eilish O'Carroll in John Murphy's musical Elvis is My Daddy at Axis Ballymun on Thursday evening.
"Claudia loved it," Clelia said proudly. "It was terrifying and completely out of my comfort zone, and I tried to talk the creator, John Murphy, out of it for months, but Claudia is very good because she will always tell me if I am great or not so great. If I am off kilter at all she will tell me, and she really enjoyed it. She gave me her usual 'you're great young one' seal of approval, so that was a relief," Clelia laughed.
"I can't sing, I can't dance and I murdered a Nancy Sinatra song in the show, but it was such a great experience and just a really great laugh for the audience and for us."
From Leinster rugby to NYC
By Bairbre Power
The prize for most enterprising Irish man in New York has to go to Dennis McGettigan, and he certainly knows how to throw a seriously good party. Dennis opened the family's latest bar on New York's West 36th Street on Thursday and he's not hanging around.
He opened a branch on Singapore's Clarke Quay on April 16 and the family, who have bars in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, open their next in Galway on June 18. Is this a record? Three new pubs in two months?
Sporting his UAE tan, Dennis told me how he's opening on Galway's Prospect Hill, on the corner of Eyre Square, after a €2.5m refurbishment of the former Bentley premises, turning it into a bar, restaurant and live music venue.
"Joanne Byrne tells me that what we need is a mean seafood chowder for Galway," laughed Dennis, whose satellite dish in NYC has a perfect view of the Empire State building three blocks away.
A big Leinster rugby fan, it was through sport that Dennis ended up taking a bite out of the big apple. "I went searching for a bar in New York that was showing the Leinster game. I found one between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, looked out the window, saw an empty premises opposite and...," explained Dennis whose dad, Jim, opened their bar on Dublin's Queen Street.
Cavan puts its best fork forward at festival launch
By Joanna Kiernan
George Bernard Shaw put it best when he wrote "there is no sincerer love, than the love of food" and foodie passion was certainly in the air at the launch of the Taste of Cavan 2015 at Fallon & Byrne on Wednesday.
RTÉ's Ella McSweeney was MC for the breakfast event, with the crème de la crème of Cavan on show. Minister Heather Humphreys made sure to keep her speech brief, conscious of a chorus of rumbling stomachs in the crowd, and once the formalities had finished, a delicious breakfast was served.
"It's become bigger and better," Neven Maguire said of the festival, which returns on August 7 and 8, and the proud Cavan man and doting dad plans to take his three-year-old twins with him this year.
"They are not cooking yet, apart from cracking eggs on the floor," he laughed.
Neven's new Baby & Toddler Cookbook shot straight to number one last week. Hot on his heels is another Cavan chef, Gearoid Lynch, who has just signed with publishers Gill & Macmillan.