By Eileen Murphy
Just when you thought Ireland couldn’t squeeze in one more celebrity — no way, no how — yet another one swans through customs at Dublin Airport. The star, whose big blue eyes, full pouty lips, killer body and gloriously highlighted mane of hair turn mere mortals into quivering, gobsmacked lumps, has just bought a house in Ireland, and plans to spend time there between making movies. No doubt, the neighbors feel that swimsuit weather can’t come fast enough.
Of course, you probably think we’re talking about "Baywatch" babe Pamela Anderson, who spent Christmas in Dublin with her new Irish beau, Ricky Goldin. But actually, Ireland’s newest celeb refugee is none other than the vampire we’d most love to interview, the legend of the fall (winter, spring and summer, too), the devil’s own Brad Pitt.
You’ll have to forgive the gushing (and the shameless drooling) — it’s been a while since we had an excuse to use a picture of Brad in this space, and it brings back painful memories of his (hee-hee) tragic split with Gwyneth Paltrow. The New York Post reports that Brad has purchased a house in County Waterford and plans to spend time there with his favorite entertainment columnist. And, when we’re unavailable, he might invite his current girlfriend, "Friends" star Jennifer Aniston, to stay there as well.
Gay old time for Byrne
Christmas Eve marked the final broadcast of RTE’s Gay Byrne radio show, and to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, it went out with a bang, not a wimper.
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Truth be told, Ireland’s most famous broadcaster had trouble getting in a word edgewise, what with all the tributes, celebrity phone-ins and musical guests. Well-wishers included President Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, British broadcaster Terry Wogan and Irish broadcaster Mike Murphy. Musical guests included Mary Black, Paddy Cole and Christy Moore, who came out of his self-imposed retirement to serenade the man affectionately known as Uncle Gaybo.
Gay, appropriately, had the last word.
"If I’d known I was half as popular, not only would I have stayed, but I would have asked for more money," he said, laughing.
Gay Byrne will end his reign as the country’s top television personality when he hands over the reigns of the "Late Late Show" in the spring.
Dana’s electoral challenge
Eurovision Song Contest winner Dana, who threw her chapeau in the ring during the last Irish presidential election, has announced that she will return to live in Ireland this year. (Jennifer had better keep a watchful eye on Brad.)
The singer, whose real name is Rosemary Scallon, plans to live in Cork. She also plans to stand as an independent candidate in the European elections in June, from the Euro constituency of Munster.
Dana has enjoyed a successful singing career in the U.S. in the years following her Eurovision victory. She has hosted a Christian talk show for EWTN-TV, based in Birmingham, Ala. A few years back, she sang for Pope John Paul II when he visited New York City.
Though some might scoff at Dana’s political ambitions, it’s interesting to note that she shocked naysayers by garnering 14 percent of the popular vote in the most recent presidential election. Kinda makes you believe that all kinds of everything are possible. Hmmm?
It’s nice, in light of the news that Daniel Day Lewis absolutely does not think of himself as Irish (and no, we haven’t gotten rid of our "Last of the Mohicans" lunch box [yet]) to find a celebrity who seems to relish her Celtic roots. Actress Catherine Zeta Jones, who so memorably wielded an epée against Antonio Banderas in "The Mask of Zorro," attributes her traffic-stopping good looks to her combined Irish and Welsh heritage.
U2 manager Paul McGuinness miraculously escaped injury in a recent car crash — but his luxury Jaguar XJ6 was a total write-off.
The incident occurred in Annamoe, Co. Wicklow, where McGuinness’s Jag collided at a sharp turn with an Isuzu jeep. Despite the severity of the crash, in which the jeep was overturned and the left side of the Jag was completely demolished, both drivers were fine, but we can’t help thinking about the innocent Jaguar . . .
There must be something in the water in County Cork. The newest wannabe neighbor to celebs like Jeremy Irons, Angela Lansbury and Dana is superstar singer George Michael. The swivel-hipped singer is looking for an abode in Kinsale, Co. Cork, no doubt to the delight of local pop fans.
Irish composer and singer Phil Coulter, who recently married longtime girlfriend Geraldine Branagan, has made his screen debut as a priest in the independent film "Back Eyed Dog."
Coulter has a cameo role in the film, which was produced and shot in San Francisco by Aisling Works. The plot centers on an Irish traditional band trying to make it into the big time in America. Coulter’s classic "Town I Love So Well" is on the soundtrack, in addition to songs by Mary Black and Tommy Fleming. The film will be shown at the Galway Film Festival this year.