The times we lived in


Royal tipple Published May 17th, 1967 Photograph by Dermot Barry

Like many a visitor to Irish shores, these folks are sampling the local brew, and looking pretty pleased with the results. But they’re not just any old tourists.

Described in the caption as “delegates attending the 14th general assembly of the International Game Council”, or Conseil International de la Chasse (CIC), they represent the creme de la creme of European aristocracy. The young couple are the Marquis and Marquise de Brissac; on the right is the Countess Marone Cinzano, wife of the council’s president.

An international hunting/shooting/ fishing lobby group with its origins in the castles and estates of Austria and Slovakia, the CIC is still going strong. These days it’s involved in “sustainable” hunting, wildlife conservation in Africa and the resettlement of the peregrine falcon.

In the late 1960s, however, the daytime sessions at the council’s general assembly clearly weren’t so onerous as to preclude a glass of the black stuff at lunchtime. The Marquise de Brissac seems happy to let that lacquered hair down and party for the entire afternoon – as, indeed, does her smiling husband.

Winemakers in the Loire Valley since the 16th century, the Brissacs were presumably well used to a snifter with meals.

As for the name Cinzano, if you don’t recognise it, well: shame on you. Made from a secret recipe which combined 35 aromatic alpine plants, the once-fashionable vermouth came in red and white varieties, and was produced by the Cinzano family until the 1980s.

Countess Cinzano has a regal demeanour. Maybe it’s the hat. Maybe it’s the pearls. Or the thin smile.

Or the fact that she was – so far as can be ascertained from the labyrinthine online family trees of the Spanish and Italian nobility – pretty danged royal. The aunt of the current king of Spain, Juan Carlos, her full name was Infanta Maria Cristina, Contessa Marone (Dona Maria Cristina Teresa Alejandra Maria de Guadalupe Maria de la Concepcion Ildefonsa Victoria Eugenia de Borbon y Battenberg).

Which might just roll off the tongue more easily after a couple of mouthfuls of Guinness.

Arminta Wallace

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