By Eileen Murphy
Ireland seems to be a hotbed of male pulchritude these days — at least, that seems to be the message that’s blowing in the wind. First, there was the explosion of Hibernian strip shows (relax, girls — we’re not talking AOH here), then came that calendar featuring lonely, marriage-minded Kerry farmers. But for those of you who want to cut to the chase, the bright and colorful new weekly, Ireland on Sunday, has compiled a list of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Of course, we prefer to think of it as a shopping list, but then, each to her own.
One caveat: not all the men on the list are actually up for grabs, as many have long-time girlfriends. And most of the guys are in their 20s or 30s, which leaves women of a certain age out in the cold. This is especially true since the cutest of the four 40-somethings, Pierce Brosnan, is decidedly unavailable — just ask his live-in girlfriend (and mother of his child) Keely Shay-Smith. Go on — we dare you.
Another thing you’ll notice is that not one farmer made the cut, nor did any publicans, mechanics, truck drivers, salesmen or anyone else who holds a remotely normal job. In fact, if someone from outer space were to view this list in 1,000 year’s time, they would conclude that Ireland was an idyllic land where guys were free to pursue artistic endeavors, while women, presumably, did all the heavy lifting. Which, when we think about it, might not be too far from the truth . . .
Anyway, without further ado, the list:
1. Eddie Irvine, 33, race car driver
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2. Craig Doyle, 28, BBC-TV personality
3. Jim Corr, 35, member of The Corrs
4. Patrick Kielty, 28, comedian
5. Michael O’Leary, 37, CEO Ryanair
6. Stephen Gately, 23, member of Boyzone
7. Mark Little, 29, RTE journalist
8. Gabriel Byrne, 48, actor
9. Colin Devlin, 28, member of The Devlins
10. Simon Coventry, 27, politician
11. Séan Og OhAilpin, 22, Cork hurler, footballer
12. Aidan Gillen, 29, actor
13. John Ryan, 30, publisher
14. John Reynolds, 32, nightclub impresario
15. Robbie Keane, 19, footballer
16. Martin McDonagh, 27, playwright
17. Adam Clayton, 37, member of U2
18. Johnathan Rys Meyers, 21, actor
19. Tommy Tiernan, 30, actor
20. Michael Flatley, 41, Lord of the Dance
21. Patrick Cruise O’Brien, 30, entrepreneur
22. Stuart Townsend, 26, actor
23. Ryan Tubridy, 26, actor
24. Graham Norton, 35, actor/talk show host
25. Brian Kennedy, 33, singer
26. Jason Barry, 27, actor
27. John Connolly, 30, writer
28. Jack Lukeman, 26, singer
29. Neil Hannon, 28, singer
30. Ken Doherty, 29, snooker champ
31. Conrad Gallagher, thirtysomething, chef
32. Pierce Brosnan, 45, Bond, James Bond
33. Marc O’Neill, 28, designer
34. Graham Linehan, 31, writer
35. Glenn Quinn, 30, actor ("Roseanne")
36. Graham McCulloch, 28, Mullingar Int’l Bachelor winner
37. Sean Huhjes, 35, comedian
38. Richard Crowley, early 40s, journalist
39. Donal Dineen, 30, radio personality
40. Paddy Casey, 24, singer
41. Ray D’Arcy, 34, actor
42. Pat O’Mahoney, 37, radio personality
43. Alan Cantwell, 30, TV2 news anchor
44. Graham Cruz, 21, singer
45. Willie Byrne, 30, actor
46. John Kelly, 33, journalist
47. Mark Dunne, 25, management company
48. Mark Scanlon, 18, cyclist
49. Daniel O’Donnell, 38, singer
50. Gavin Lamb Murphy, 24, writer
Liam’s snub hits the Mark
You know, we hate to write unpleasant things about the Gallagher brothers of Oasis fame, partly because we hate looking at pictures of men who have only one eyebrow, and partly because it upsets one of our office mates, who thinks that music began and ended with "Champagne Supernova." (Note: treatment is now available!)
Anyway, we feel it is our duty to report that Liam Gallagher, whose antics in the past have included spitting on audiences, getting arrested for suspected drug possession and fighting publicly with his wife, Patsy Kensit, was awfully abrupt when he was approached by a fellow pop star. But we’re getting ahead of the story.
It seems that young Sligoman Mark Feehily, member of rising boy band Westlife, ran into Gallagher at a Tommy Hilfiger party in London last week. The young singer, thrilled to be so close to one of his musical idols, stuck out his hand and said, "My name is Mark. I’m a big fan of your music."
With his characteristic graciousness, Gallagher shrugged and walked away. Ouch.
Of course, Feehily will probably have the last (manly) giggle in all this, since Westlife is poised for major stardom. The band, which is managed by Boyzone impresario Louis Walsh and Boyzone lead singer Ronan Keating, is purty, polished and popular in Ireland and the UK. They have just released "If I Let You Go," a follow-up to their chart-topping single, "Swear It Again," and recently completed a successful tour of Australia and Asia.
Gallagher awaits the birth of his first child. Who, no doubt, will grow up to be a Westlife fan. Ah, the irony.
A bridge of hope
As we mark the sad anniversary of the horrific Omagh bombing, it’s comforting to know that there is one way in which to help the families of the victims. Belfast-born film and music producer Ross Graham has put together a 14-track CD of music and spoken words, "Across the Bridge of Hope." Proceeds benefit the Omagh Fund.
U2, Sinead O’Connor, Van Morrison and Liam Neeson are among the artists who contributed to this most worthy cause. The most touching moment was Neeson’s reading of the title poem, which was written by a child who was killed in the bombing.
The album is available from White Records Ltd. and V Entertainment Network, (212) 736-7505, email@example.com.
The social whirl
The life of a columnist is far less glamorous than it sounds, since much time is spent fending off publicists who want you to drop everything and write about their clients who play — gasp! — the accordion, or sing — gasp! — Irish songs! As though no one ever thought of doing that before. Sheesh.
Anyway, we had one of those rare, exciting days last week, the kind of day that looks so impressive when jotted down in a diary: "8 a.m.: Frank McCourt at the 21 Club. Noon: Liam Neeson at Fitzpatrick’s Grand Central Hotel. The penthouse, of course."
Yes, we jumped on a train at the crack of dawn to catch McCourt’s turn as one of the 21 Club’s Millennium Speakers series, and it was well worth the effort. McCourt’s reminiscences about his early days in New York, when he worked as a porter in a midtown hotel, were at once poignant and hilarious. His stories about teaching in New York City public high schools were fascinating, even if he did refer to Stuyvesant High School as "the jewel in the crown" of the educational system — as a proud grad of Bronx Science, the actual jewel in the crown, we would have loved to point this out. But good manners prevailed, and we let him have his say. McCourt then read from "Angela’s Ashes" and his new book, "T’is."
After the talk, the room cleared quickly — as the man behind us in the bag check line said, "I’m late for a investiture!" We tripped out into the blinding sunshine, and jumped in a cab. We were late for an ingest-iture — of our morning tea, that is.
Wrestled with the website for a couple of hours, and then it was off to the new Fitzpatrick’s hotel for some sighs in the sky. John Fitzpatrick was hosting a small reception to celebrate the dedication of the hotel’s penthouse suite to Irish actor Liam Neeson, and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.
After picking up our name badge, we were escorted to the elevator, where a white-gloved attendant waited to whisk us to the top floor. Once there, we were greeted by more white-gloved attendants who allowed us to peek at the tastefully appointed bedrooms before ushering us out to the terrace. And there, right in front of us, was Liam himself., looking handsome (big surprise) in a casually elegant navy linen suit.
The small, invitation-only crowd was treated to lovely hors d’oeuvres and a full bar, as well as the chance to chat with the easy-going star. We broke our own rule about not jumping into pictures with celebrities — really, we couldn’t resist posing with him. But we felt like a dork, and told him so, sheepishly.
"Ah, no, it’s all right," he smiled, putting his arm around our shoulder. We concentrated on keeping our knees locked and not simpering like an idiot, which meant that in the photo, we look like we’re suppressing a belch. Ah, well . . .
The dedication ceremony was brief. Hotelier Fitzpatrick made a short speech, presented Liam with a ceremonial key to the suite, and a fly-fishing pole. Afterward, we wandered around the bright and airy bedrooms, resisting the urge to bounce on the pristine beds. On every television — and we counted seven: one in each bedroom, bathroom, and one in the living room — a different movie starring the guest of honor was being shown. It was like being in a world where we all worshipped Liam. And yes, we’d have been happy to stay.
Oct. 9 is the one day of the year that you’ll want to make sure you’re near a television radio or computer — or possibly all three. Net Aid — a concert which will raise money to combat worldwide poverty – will be simulcast in all possible mediums. The concert, which will take place in three different countries (Switzerland, England, and the U.S.) will be headlined by U2 and a host of other bands.
If the lines "The kind people have a wonderful dream/Margaret on the guillotine" make you giggle uncontrollably, then you’ll be happy to hear that the reclusive Morrissey is getting ready to launch a tour of Europe and the United States in the fall. More details as we get them.
Frank McCourt recently attended a screening of the film version of his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Angela’s Ashes." The author, who would understandably be a tough critic, thought it was great.
"Beyond my wildest expectations," he told the New York Times. He also mentioned that he and his wife, Ellen, "used up a box of Kleenex" between them.
"It’s an unusual experience to look at your own life," he mused.
The movie, which starts Emily Watson ("The Boxer", "Jackie and Hillary") as Angela and Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty") as Malachy Sr., opens in December. McCourt’s new book, "T’is," will be published next month.