By Eileen Murphy
We were sad to learn that the short, tragic life of Paula Yates came to an end last weekend.
Yates, 41, was the ex-wife of Irish rocker Bob Geldof. She was found dead by her 4-year-old daughter, Tiger Lily, at her London home on Sunday. The cause of death has not been determined, but reports in British papers state that alcohol, pills and traces of heroin and marijuana were found at her bedside.
The bubbly, blond Yates and the cranky Boomtown Rats star seemed an oddly matched pair when they married in the early 1980s, but they seemed to rub along happily enough. The couple had three children together, exotically names Fifi Trixiebelle, Peaches and Pixie, and while Geldof virtually retired from the rock scene to devote his time to Live Aid, Yates maintained her career as a British TV personality.
The couple had a nasty divorce in 1995, when Yates fell in love with INXS singer Michael Hutchence. She and Hutchence had one child, Tiger Lily, and were engaged to be married when the singer hung himself in a hotel room in 1997. Yates blamed her lover’s death on the bitter child custody dispute with Geldof. She suffered a nervous breakdown and underwent treatment for alcohol and drug dependency.
Geldof has taken custody of Tiger in the aftermath of Yates’s death. He issued a statement Sunday appealing for privacy for himself and the children.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
“It doesn’t require much imagination to understand the pain,” he said. “Please do nothing to add to that.
“Leave the children with their loss and Paula with her dignity,” he implored the press. “We are all so sad. The loss for all the children is insupportable.”
Geldof reflected on his relationship with his former wife.
“I loved her madly, the girl that she once was, all those years ago,” he told writer Paul Vallely, who worked with him on his autobiography, “Is That It?”
“When you write about her, be kind to her.”
Finbar joins the ‘Gang’
Movie fans with a yen for Irish hunks have yet another reason to to look forward to the completion of Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “Gangs of New York.” In addition to the star power of cast members Leonardo Di Caprio, Daniel Day Lewis and Liam Neeson, a certain Irish singer will be joining the mob.
Finbar Furey, the craggy-faced (and craggy-voiced) frontman of the Furey Brothers, has been hired to play a Mafia boss in the film. And while he didn’t get his big break sitting at the soda fountain in Schwab’s, the story is almost as good: a casting director spotted his picture on the cover of an album.
Finbar is reportedly excira’ and delira’ over the whole thing.
“It’s great for him to be making his film debut at the age of 53,” said his happy manager, Gerry Browne.
“Finbar plays a Mafia head who happens to break into song now and again,” he added. “He is very excited, but scared as hell.”
Of course, Finny realizes that that’s no way for an aspiring capo di tutti capo to be acting. So he’s doing his best to get into character before flying to Rome for the four-day shoot.
“He’s already trying to get into the role,” laughed Browne. “He’s begun wearing a hat and is walking around doing a ‘Marlon Brando.’ ” And, we presume, making people offers they can’t refuse.Maire’s faith pulls her through
Clannad singer Maire Brennan’s just-published autobiography is causing quite a stir in Ireland over her admission that, at the age of 19, she went to England for an abortion.
The pregnancy was the result of a brief affair with a French musician at a music festival in Europe. Brennan was madly in love with the man, whom she identifies only as “Pierre,” but he walked out on her after consummating their relationship. Heartbroken, Brennan returned to Donegal, but the worst was yet to come. She discovered that she was pregnant.
“Donegal gave me a long, innocent childhood,” she told the Sunday World. “But such naivete was also dangerous, and I hated myself for being so stupid.”
In the book, Brennan recounts arriving at the painful decision to end her pregnancy, and the wretched boat journey to England for the operation. She also writes frankly about the breakdown of her first marriage, as well as a period in which she indulged in booze, drugs and casual sex.
But all of that is behind her now – she’s a happily married wife and mother these days. She credits her turnaround to her faith in God.
“If you have faith, you can be forgiven for something as bad as having an abortion,” she said.