Yvonne opens her heart about Ronan's affair
'It nearly destroyed me but I am happy again'
THE lives of Yvonne and Ronan Keating seemed too perfect for words. And so it proved in the end.
It was the golden marriage during this country's golden age. The Boyzone singer and the Assets supermodel, who married on April 30, 1998, on the Caribbean isle of Nevis, epitomised the glamour of Ireland at the height of the boom.
Then, like the boom, it all went wrong when in 2010 it emerged that goody-two shoes Ronan had an affair with dancer Francine Cornell on a Boyzone tour.
Suddenly, the golden marriage was in ruins.
Yvonne, her beautiful face full of pain, looked like she was going to have a breakdown of some sort.
She was certainly not in a good place, having been so publicly betrayed by the man she loved and who she thought loved her.
That was three years ago. Yvonne Keating has since put her life back together.
Today, in a world exclusive interview in the Sunday Independent's Life magazine, she has spoken for the first time about the breakdown of her marriage. "I was on the floor," she said. "One day my life was perfect and I was married to the man of my dreams and I was totally in love – and then the next minute I wasn't."
Yvonne says, even in hindsight, she didn't see Ronan's affair with Francine coming. On the day Gerry Ryan died, April 30, 2010, she and Ronan were on the Orient Express for their wedding anniversary.
"We both sat talking about how fragile life was and how we couldn't believe how Gerry passed away.
"Two weeks after that, I found out," Yvonne revealed, referring to the affair with Francine. "We were about to move into our new house.
"So, no, I didn't see it coming at all."
Yvonne also reveals that she met Francine for five hours in a hotel room in London not long after she found out about the affair.
"A lot of things were answered. We both realised after talking that what we believed in wasn't true," she said, in reference to Ronan telling the two women in question he loved them at the same time.
"I think that helped her as much as it probably helped me. Because, you know what? There is a lot of people's emotions involved. I never blamed her, strangely enough.
"When I left her, I hugged her and wished her well, and told her if she ever needed anything to call me.
"When I look back, this is what it all boils down to: it was basically two girls in love with the same boy who over a five-hour conversation realised that that boy was not who we thought he was. The details really don't matter. It doesn't matter that he was a pop star. It doesn't matter that I was the wife or that she was the dancer. That's basically what this story is all about. It is kind of tragic."
I have known Yvonne for longer than I care to remember – back when she was Yvonne Connolly from Straffan. I remember dancing with her and her model mate Amanda Byram in the POD nightclub in the mid-nineties. I also recall going on a private jet with Yvonne and Ronan –and ex-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds – in 2003 for the Marbella Ball.
There was also dinner with her and Ronan in their palatial home in Abbington in Malahide; Yvonne now lives 10 doors down from that house in another mansion on the same upmarket estate.
I also went on another private plane in July 2004 to Elton John's White Tie and Tiara Ball in Windsor with Ronan and Yvonne. Ronan paid stg£30,000 for a table at a star-studded hooley – Kate Moss, Kylie, Rod Stewart, Sting, Bob Geldof, Michael Caine, Sir David Frost and Sir Ian McKellen et al – on Elton's plush stately pile set among 37 acres of rolling English countryside next to Windsor Castle.
We stayed in the Runnymede Hotel, with Ozzy Osbourne checking in as Yvonne and the rest of us sat in the bar. Later, Ronan had arranged for a white Bentley to take the 'Irish Contingent' to the ball.
In late 2003, I was on a small plane with Ronan that crash-landed on a dark November night in Cologne.
Ronan was so overcome with emotion when he got off the plane that he kissed the runway and rang Yvonne on the mobile and told her what had happened and told her how much he loved her.
She was having dinner in the Trocadero restaurant in Dublin with some girlfriends and thought at first it was a bad joke.
To be honest, when I first heard the story of Ronan's fling with the dancer on the 2009 Boyzone tour I thought it was a bad joke too. Yvonne can kind of look back on it all with a wry laugh now.
Yesterday, I rang Yvonne in Portugal – she was on holiday with her three children – and asked why she decided to break her silence after all these years. "I opened up about it because I'm at peace with it," she told me.
"It happened. It nearly destroyed me but I'm still here and happy again.
"It's time to draw a line under it and move on."