Category: Archive

Tracings A run around Ireland

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Olivia Tracey

Fly Aer Lingus premier class on the new direct route from L.A. to Dublin and you’re bound not just for Irish shores, but also bound to rub elbows with some of the finest people. On my recent trip home to Ireland, I was seated beside a very interesting lady, a scientist from Manchester, who, like myself, was totally impressed with all things Aer Lingus, not least of which was the convenience of immigration in Dublin on her way to England. It was indeed first rate all the way, from the crisp Sancerre and succulent salmon to the friendly attentive staff and those plush roomy seats which afforded me some serious slumber. Hopefully, I didn’t snore.

Before I indulged in that beauty sleep, I caught up with my other neighbor, no other than the movie mogul himself Arthur Leppin, the Hells Kitchen hotshot who, along with Jim Sheridan, brought us "My Left Foot" and "In the Name of the Father," not to mention a string of Oscar nominations and awards. Well, these days, they’re really flying high, so to speak, with no fewer that six features lined up for production over the next year. All still with working titles, the first one is "Borstal Boy," to be shot in Ireland with director Peter Sheridan (Jim’s brother), who, incidentally, recently released his book, "44 — Dublin Made Me" — a great read. At the same time, they hope to shoot "the Smiling Suicide Club," a love-story dealing with the issue of youth suicide in an optimistic, humorous way, under the directorship of John Kearney ("November Afternoon"). Next comes "The Notebook," a New Line production in association with Hells Kitchen to be shot late spring in North Carolina, followed by "Tesis," (Thesis) an English remake of the Spanish film of the same name which explores the especially timely issue of violence in the media. Then Jim Sheridan is back in the directing chair with "Village People," a humorous look at his struggling years in the Lower East Side’s Alphabet City during the early 1980s, followed, finally, by a biopic on the life of Marianne Faithful, to be written by Frank McGuinness for Universal Studios. Looks like a busy schedule indeed for the coming year, with not an idle hand in sight over at Hells Kitchen.

Meanwhile, this little angel had her own schedule to keep. Only hours off the plane, I paid a quick visit to my favorite Grafton Street tailor, the handsome Des Byrne, before a much-needed cut and color with my much-missed hairdresser, Aidan Fitzgerald. The following day it was over to photographer extraordinaire Vincent O’Byrne, who had just received news of yet another string of photography awards to add to his already vast collection. However, in his quiet humble way, he told me that he had just won five Awards of Excellence from the Master Photographer’s Association, including the Overseas Master Photographer of the Year, which will be presented to him by actress Koo Stark on Oct. 10 at the Gala Annual Awards Dinner in Coventry. He has also been the thrice overall winner of the prestigious Kodak Awards, making him the first and only person to do so. He now judges the awards annually for Kodak as well as guest speaking at various photography seminars including an upcoming four-day workshop in Amsterdam.

Speaking of excellence. I also made it down to the Rose of Tralee Festival, which, quite frankly, deserves an award in itself for such an outstanding display. The festival was in fact the point of my trip, as I was on a working assignment to host the lunchtime fashion show at the Earl of Desmond Hotel. It was a fantastic turnout, attracting more than 300 people, with style and glamour second to none. The new Festival CEO, former Rose Noreen Cassidy, deserves great credit for shipshaping it into a real 21st century show, with five days of non-stop, first-class entertainment. I’ll be giving you the entire lowdown on that next time. Meanwhile, the newly crowned International Rose, Corkonian Geraldine O’Grady, has already visited American shores to appear on the QVC home-shopping channel. Likewise, the newly crowned Miss Ireland, Emir Houlihan Doyle, has been to the Big Apple and back to promote the Waterford Crystal Millennium Ball, which is to be lowered over Times Square at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s. I’m seething with jealousy as I hear she got to meet on of my pin-up stars, "Victoria’s Closet" actor Ron Silver.

However, one of the highlights of my trip back home was not just the opportunity to celebrate my dear father’s 86th birthday, but also the chance to spend a few days with my "Manhattan family," P.J. Carney’s Des and Connie Crawford. This time it was far from Manhattan indeed, nestled at Coolbawn Lodge in the fresh West Cork countryside, where they were on an extended vacation with their gorgeous son Andrew. They were busy drawing up plans for a new house on their 10-acre plot along the Schull coastline, where they will share the breathtaking ocean views with their nearby neighbors, Jeremy Irons, Sinead Cusack, and Tony O’Reilly. In the meantime, we were being well cared for by the farmhouse proprietors, Padhraig and Eileen O’Driscoll, between gifts of homemade ham, freshly grown spuds and honest-to-God Irish hospitality.

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

Indeed, I encountered more of the same over at The Mines pub in Ballydehob as I stopped off to make a phone call. As I sat outside in my car awaiting my friends, I was approached by a local patron, Godfrey, who was doing his best to get me into the pub and find out if I was who he thought I was. "You wouldn’t be . . . ?" he started to inquire before he turned shy and retreated back to the pub, his long silver locks blowing in the Ballydehob breeze. Enter Frances, the charming proprietor, who was killed offering me coffee, tea, drinks, you name it, as she fulfilled her mission from Godfrey in finding out who I was. I then read about the event in the next day’s Cork Examiner, much to my amusement.

Alas, on my return to Dublin, I managed to get a dose of laryngitis, leaving me housebound and speechless for the rest of my stay. Olivia Tracey speechless! Sounds like a sick joke, I know, but true. So I just had to listen and lap up all the pampering from my dear big sis, Anne.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese