Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Festivities begin

Appreciators of art were out en force on Wednesday for the opening of the new Urban Retreat gallery on Hanvoer Quay, in the newest part of the Dublin docklands development. The evening kicked off with the rousing sounds of the bodhran, as Liam O’Maonlai and Ronan O’Snodaigh of Kila sang with the aid of radio mikes while rowing a currach in the waters off Grand Canal Dock. That sound was soon replaced by that of champagne corks popping inside the state-of-the-art gallery, which is run by the Cill Rialaig Project, the artists retreat in Kerry set up by Noelle Campbell – Sharpe.

The new gallery will feature works by Irish and international artists who have been resident at the Kerry retreat, with the inaugural exhibition featuring Cork based artist Martin Finnin with “The World is Blue like an Orange”. Judging by the number of pieces that were sold on the night, it was a massive hit with the assembled guests. In fact, Martin’s last show in Limerick sold out in just thirty minutes with many buyers disappointed at being unable to acquire one of his highly prized, colourful and sensitive pieces.

Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism John O’Donoghue TD, himself a Kerryman, officiated on the evening and delivered a passionate speech full of pride and praise for the Cill Rialaig Project, echoing everyone’s sentiments and delight at the new venture. He even joked that An Taoiseach should hire Noelle as a campaign manager come the next general election!

The 400 guests were treated to an after party in the impressive new Ely restaurant next door, which officially opens to the public in January. The diplomatic corps was well represented with ambassadors from France, Spain, Japan, Slovenia and Brazil all in attendance. Also present were Diarmuid Gavin and his wife Madeline Keane, interior designer Peter Willis, Marie Louise Kenny, architect Hugh Wallace and Jackie Lavin, who has just launched a new perfume with her husband Bill Cullen. The sweet smell of success perhaps?

I’m already a little bored of mince pies and mulled wine so I popped into Jaipur, my favourite Indian restaurant, on Dublin’s Georges Street yesterday for some lunch that didn’t have the ubiquitous Christmas flavour. Well, to say that the place was buzzing with a who’s who of people would be an understatement.

PR guru and co-star of the RTE show It’s My Party Sinead Ryan was there with Andrew Rudd, foodie extraordinaire. He’s just completed a series of cookery demonstrations which took in most of the Munster counties and still has a few Ireland AM appearances penciled in before the holidays.

Naiose Nunn was celebrating the success of his Leviathan political cabaret show which took place the previous night in CrawDaddy. A 3rd Anniversary special, it featured Harry Crosbie and Katie Hannon amongst others and was compared by the inimitable David McWilliams. Naoise was dining with Paddy Cullivan, a.k.a. Clint Velour, who many of you will know heads up the popular Camembert Quartet band, residents on the Tubridy Tonight show. At an adjacent table were Sharyn Mitchell, Mark Wooderson and Jim Sheridan of acclaimed TV production company Another Avenue, no doubt plotting their next small screen hit.

Creative ladies who lunch were well represented by publicist Roisin Ni Mhordha, artist Elaine Byrne and writer Carol Hunt. Elaine tells me that her latest project, The Collectors Club, is going from strength to strength with the aforementioned Harry Crosbie among her many fans. Elsewhere I spotted cartoonist Tom Matthews, Brian Barnes of Spirit nightclub and photographer Malachy Geelan. Despite the welcome non-festive food a very merry time was had by all.

It’s only fashionable to be late when you’re a model. And there were plenty of them at two stylish events this week. Brendan Scully and Sean Montague of the BScene agency hosted a Jameson cocktail party in SPY on Tuesday night for their good looking troupe and they’re admirers, who included stylist Leone Amon, Benoit Bringer and Ireland’s Miss Europe Jill Macken, who looked stunning in a Tyrell & Brennan dress.

The BScene agents have had a hectic few weeks, which culminated with a trip to London last week to see one of their protégés in action. Dean McCarthy, a BScene acting student, has just taken to the stage as Billy in Billy Elliott, the hit West End musical. The 14-year-old scored the top role after a grueling round of auditions earlier this year and last week started his run as the lead, with no less than three standing ovations on the opening night of his debut performance.

Last night, the young and the restless (or should that be “guest list”?) included Glenda Gilson, Andrea Roche and Rosanna Davison, who were all at the Assets Model Agency annual Christmas bash at Parker Browns nightclub in Dundrum Town Centre. The beautiful Lisa Murphy, who I’d spotted earlier in the week at the opening of the new Chinatown Christmas Market in Smithfield, told me of her recent charity trip to Uganda. An international model if ever there was one.

The Loft space at the Powerscourt Centre was packed out on Thursday evening for the one night only exhibition by photographer and photo artist Yvonne Kelly. Having traveled extensively throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe, Yvonne has shown a flair for capturing moments and moods and has that rare and valuable gift - a natural eye for the 'perfect shot'.

Having built up an impressive portfolio of work over a number of years, she decided to hold an exhibition, with the sale proceeds going to the Entally Children's Orphanage in Calcutta, a project she visited while on her travels. Delighted with the turnout on the evening, Yvonne thrilled: “My aim is to raise funds so that these orphaned kids can receive an education, make a contribution to society and be helped achieve their dreams! The amount raised tonight will go a long way to help make that happen”.

Some of the many supporters on the evening included Yvonne’s father, Cavan based solicitor John V. Kelly, Anna Cullivan and her daughter Yvonne, TV and radio presenter Taragh Loughrey – Grant and Daniela Crawley from the St. Patricks Day festival, who told me that they are already very busy with plans for next years celebrations.

Glitz and glam was the name of the game at the Smirnoff Casino Royale Christmas Extravaganza that took place at Wrights Café Bar in Swords on Thursday night.

Roulette, blackjack, entertainers, flame throwers and DJ’s made it a night to remember as the great and the good of Nouth County Dublin, including Killian O’Sullivan, Brian Ormond and Siobhan Mc Clafferty, turned out in their finest.

The Bond themed event attracted some 500 revelers with high rollers such as Keith Duffy, model Jenny Lee Masterson, Niall Mc Crudden and Ray Shah taking to the tables. Everything was all Wright on the night though with no major losses reported.

There were a plethora of Christmas parties on this week, but who better to host a party than another party (political, that is). Fine Gael hosted a drinks reception in the Alexander Hotel this week, which was well attended by the entire parliamentary party, movers, shakers and the media. Indeed, a great number of the Labour party were on the guest list too. Among the party faithful were David Davin – Power, GAA star Graham Geraghty and TV3’s Ursula Halligan.

Fianna Fail hosted their festive soiree at Ron Blacks on the same evening, a low key event but well attended by the party nonetheless. An Taoiseach welcomed RTE’s Joe Duffy and Mary Wilson, Martin Macken and Rodney Rice amongst others.

That same evening I attended an intimate champagne reception hosted by The Gloss Magazine. Dynamic duo Sarah and Jane McDonnell have had a very busy year, producing one of the most exciting and impressive publications this country has ever seen. Many well-wishers turned out to support the sisters, including Norman Pratt, Gillian O’Loughlin and charity PR Sophie Flynn Rogers, who, by the time you read this, will be on her way to Goa where she plans to spend the next month. Now that’s what I call The Gloss.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Party Pics

At the opening party party for the new Rudd Brothers food store: 1. Barbara Connolly and Brendan Rogers. 2. Elaine Byrne and Simon Rudd.

Pictured at the opening of the new Rudd Brothers food emporium in Blackrock Market were: 1. Andrew Rudd. 2. Aoife Meldon and Alex Dickson. 3. Ross Robertson, Naomi Caroll and Jane McMahon.

At the PSP+ME event were: 1. Des Bishop and 2. Simone Rocha.

Food for thought

Acclaimed writer Fran Leibowitz once said that food is an essential part of a healthy diet. I couldn’t agree more. And neither would Andrew and Simon Rudd of the newly opened Rudd Brothers food store in Blackrock. I took a trip out there recently where the brothers Rudd were hosting an informal soirée to celebrate the opening of their latest venture. Broadcaster Derek Davis was delighted to be there doing the honours and gave a passionate speech about how we should all strive to eat well and support those who produce good food. Again, I couldn’t agree more.

Among the guests on the evening were Brendan and Ruth Walsh, Joanne Byrne, John McKibbon and Jonothan Sultan (off to NYC for some festive shopping the next day) and photographer Malachy Geelan, who had just returned from Florence where he did a fashion shoot with Kip Carroll for Salvatore Ferragamo no less.

The shop, in Blackrock Market, is a gourmand’s heaven and stocks a wide variety of foods (including the delicious Prue & Simon’s line of rashers and sausages) as well as essential bits and pieces for the kitchen. Perfect Christmas gifts for the foodie in your life.

Top of many Christmas lists this year will, no doubt, be a PSP (Play Station Portable) and those who can’t get their hands on one in time for the 25th may not have appreciated the PSP+ME show which was hosted in FilmBase last week.

For the project, a plethora of creatives produced original work across a range of disciplines including art, design, fashion, music, motion, illustration and photography, which challenge the perception of PSP. My friend thought it a huge waste of good PSPs but it was art, and very good art too. PSPs well spent if you ask me.

On the same night (and a wet miserable one it was too) I ventured up to The Village where Coke and iTunes were hosting an exclusive event to celebrate the launch of their joint venture. Irish group The Blizzards played a storming set as the crowd, who included Jenny Houston, TV presenters Michelle Doherty and Taragh Loughrey – Grant, Tonie Walsh and Deborah McGee, got bigger and bigger. They were all there to see The Rapture, who practically blew the roof off. The Killers were also supposed to make a brief appearance, but alas they cancelled their big gig in the RDS that night.

Incidentally, nearly every launch event with any link to music is held in The Village, and, while I like the place (the excellent Songs of Praise rock karaoke of a Sunday night is a must), it does get a bit boring after the umpteenth party. Here’s hoping that Tripod, the long-awaited John Reynolds venue at the old Harcourt St. railway station, takes some of the action. I was there last Saturday night and I have to say the place looks great. After all the delays and false starts in opening it was worth the wait.

During the week I also attended the Barnardos Spirit of Christmas Gala Ball in Dublin Castle. Usually the location for State dinners and Presidential inaugurations, St. Patricks Hall made for an amazing venue and guests were even encouraged to wander the state apartments and have a look. Well worth a visit if you haven’t already been.

Miriam O’Callaghan was the MC for the evening, with Minister for Children Noel Dempsey TD the guest of honour. Among those in their finery were Dee Breen of Harvey Nichols, Triona McCarthy, Brendan Howlin TD, Paddy Bollard and Eimear Quinn and Jane O’Keeffe, who has recently been appointed Marketing Manager for Dundrum Town Centre. Being the busiest time of year for retail, I really hope she has the spirit of Christmas!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Party People

At the Social & Personal Top 100 Party People of the year bash in Cafe en Seine were: 1. Lisa Fitzpatrick. 2. Kim Byrne and Halina Ashdowne - Sheils. 3. Lisa Cummins and John Compton. 4. Johanna and Caoilinn Taylor. 5. Neasa Mellett, Cindy Cafolla and Amanda Brunker.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Top 100 Party People

The big party that kicks off the Christmas social season is the Social & Personal Top 100 Party People of the year event, and last weeks bash certainly had everyone in attendance in a festive mood. Definitely one of the most well attended social occasions of the year, it brings out the party faithful in their glitz and glam and the theme of “ghetto fabulous” didn’t disappoint. Even the venue, Café en Seine, resembled Mortons of L.A. at Vanity Fair Oscar party time.

Inclusion on “The List”, this year in association with Corona Extra, is determined by a panel of judges who start with over a thousand names and then narrow it down to 100. The esteemed panel was made up of top model and Bubble Hits presenter Glenda Gilson, publicist (and star of TV show It’s My Party) Sinead Ryan, Sunday Indo social diarist Barry Egan, TV presenter Laura Woods, Lillies Bordello boss Dave Morrissey and fashionista Maria Fusco, of Ave Maria.

Claiming the top spot this year is An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, TD, who is usually guest of honour at any event he attends. With a diary more packed than my own, he also plays host to the world’s leaders on a regular basis. A deserving winner of this most sought after accolade, he was, ironically, unable to attend the party but met with Social & Personal publisher PJ Gibbons at government buildings earlier in the day to receive his award.

Making up the rest of the top 5 positions were Rosanna Davison, who attended with her boyfriend Wes Quirke – the hottest couple about town; the glamorous Lisa Murphy, who is currently in Uganda on a charity mission; TV3 fashion stylist Lisa Fitzpatrick, who was the belle of the ball and broadcaster Gerry Ryan, who had been rushed to hospital earlier in the week and was not present, natch (although if he had been there then that really would have upped his party cred).

Among the other favoured few to make the list were Miss Ireland Sarah Morrissey, actor George McMahon, Sir Jack Leslie, beauty guru Triona McCarthy, Conrad Gallagher, Brian O’Dricsoll, Enya and newscaster Anne Doyle. My position on the list is just beneath the gorgeous Andrea Roche, who is joined by her pals Gail Kaneswaren and Roberta Rowat.

As I said, it was a very well attended event and some of those I spotted were Amanda Brunker, Ross Robertson, Paul Byrom and Niall McCrudden, Mr. Ireland Simon Hales, Keith Foran and Ivano Cafolla Jnr., Robbie Fox, Sonia Macari, Rachel Kavanagh and Phil Cosby (Bing’s grandson, no less).

The festivities continued in Lillies and Renards until late night (or should that be early morning?), with the party people living up to their well-earned reputations.