Category: Archive

Tracings The new Dublin all go

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Olivia Tracey

It’s not every day that I get issued an invitation to a wedding in Ireland along with a round-trip air ticket, so when my Dublin hairdresser of 14 years, Aidan Fitzgerald, did exactly that, I couldn’t help but accept. And what a wedding it was, despite the non-stop downpour – a snazzy blacktie affair, complete with horse and carriage, a superb meal at Stillorgan’s Beaufield Mews restaurant, and a gregarious gathering of guests in full celebratory spirit, with the ladies especially looking tres chic altogether in a selection of hats that could put Ascot to shame. Mind you, we girls had some very stiff competition with the bride, colorist Karen Whelan, looking stunning in an off-the-shoulder, slim-line silk gown, as indeed did her bridesmaid sister, Michelle, in pearl pink.

I brought along my sister Helen, who pronounced the occasion the best wedding she had ever been to. Mind you, we were in the best of company with John and Adrienne Mahon of the renowned John Adam hairdressing salons, partners Joan and Michael Kildellan and Paul McGaley and his gorgeous wife, Marion. Once the dancing started I was up jiving with Fr. Joe Foley, Aidan’s Limerick cousin who performed the Booterstown Avenue church ceremony, and who, on the dance floor, could shake and boogie in true Travolta style. Celebrations continued into the small hours before the happy couple took off on their Orient Express honeymoon through Venice, Florence, Vienna and the Italian Riviera.

In the meantime, I got reacquainted with my city that, in my almost two-year absence, has changed beyond belief, from cell phone-mania to 21st century attitudes. With its new cosmopolitan flavor and vibrant energy, I’m not surprised that it has become Europe’s most popular city. Business is booming and optimism is at its peak and the Fair City’s luxurious face lift reflects that. It is no longer just home to the native Dubliner, but to every nationality, color and creed, with multicultural shops and restaurants aplenty.

Despite the city’s new image, I’m glad to say that it has not lost its earthy charm. It gave me a little jab of nostalgia to hear the fruit sellers on Moore Street say “Thanks, love” in their acute Dublin drawl instead of the American “Have a nice day.” It was especially sweet to go back to one of my old haunts, the Trocadero restaurant on Andrew Street, and be spoiled rotten by Robert and the staff, who took it upon themselves to run out at midnight to the local Spar supermarket to get me my favorite YR steak sauce. Now that’s what I call service. Then there were numerous visits to the stunning and constantly bustling La Stampa, opposite the Mansion House, including a three-hour lunch courtesy of my Bank of Ireland manager and investor, Brendan King and B.J. O’Brien. Should you pay a visit to the Dawson Street eatery, the must-haves are the goat cheese appetizer, spring role entree and the to-die-for summer pudding soaked in berries and fruit juice. Another worthwhile restaurant is The Queens in M’ve Binchey’s Dalkey village, with its warmly candlelit ambiance and very affordable good food (open evenings only).

Of course when I wasn’t out on the town, I also got to savor some of Mom’s simpler, yet no less delicious, home cooking, especially her freshly baked coconut scones and loganberry jam, a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. However, the best part was reuniting with family and friends, as well as bumping into old acquaintances. I lunched with RTE World Cup host and P.R. man Bill O’Herlihy, took a trip to the Law Courts to snack with RTE personality-turned-barrister Teresa Lowe and actress-turned barrister Virginia Cole, paid a visit to the RTE canteen to chat with Paul Cusack (brother to Sinead), producer of the critically acclaimed detective series “Making the Cut;” met all my old buddies from my “Murphy’s Micro Quiz ‘M” hosting days and enjoyed a delightfully warm welcome; bumped into actor Adrian Dunbar (“Hear My Song”) fresh from his stint on John Boorman’s “The General;” attended a documentary screening of “Everest” on the new 80-foot-high IMAX screen in the Parnell Center; partook in a snazzy reception, complete with jazz band and champagne, for Budweiser P.R. firm Fleishman Hillard Saunders to celebrate the move to their 10,000-square-foot premises on yuppieland, Fitzwilliam Quay; there I met RTE newscaster Eileen Dunne, handsome sportscaster Michael Lester, hotelier and former Miss Ireland franchise-holder Krish Naidoo and his gorgeous wife, Lelia, P.R. mogul John Saunders himself and his wife, Jean, looking wonderful with her trimmed-down figure and sleek new hairdo, and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in his usual fine form.

Follow us on social media

Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo

Speaking of launches, I performed the official opening of a fine new portrait studio, Visage at Lafayette, on Burgh Quay, owned by Vincent O’Byrne, Dublin’s multi-award-winning photographer, and Sean Burgess, who is carrying on the family tradition for his now deceased father, photographer John A. Burgess, who, in 1951, bought the Lafayette name, the oldest photographic establishment in the world. On the wall hangs a seven-foot long artistic shot of moi, alongside some of Ireland’s greatest, including De Valera, Pearse, Yeats and Shaw, as well as some modern day characters such as journalist Dermot Hayes and restaurateur Patrick Guilbaud, both of whom attended the launch.

In the film and theater world, I caught up with Jim Sheridan whose latest project is as producer on comedian, Brendan O’Carroll’s film “The Mammy.” Also there was actress, Angelica Huston, as striking as always even in jeans and a sweater. I was fortunate enough to partake in a reading of the script and witness firsthand the fine actress at work. She summoned up every emotion in an instant and had the Dublin accent down to a fine art, but most important of all, she showed herself to be a woman of incredible class and warmth. As for Brendan O’Carroll, he was as friendly and funny as always, and very much enjoying the success of his Olympia Theater hit comedy, “The Course” which he intends to bring to New York.

Finally, in the midst of my 18-day visit to the old sod, I took Mom and Dad to the west, with a day on the Aran Islands feeling like a tourist on a quest to discover my Inis Mor and Innisheer. But that’s another story.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese