'We're like sisters. We've always felt like that'
Louise Kennedy (right) and her friend Catherine Burke-Kennedy Photgraph: Eric Luke
In conversation with FRANCES O'ROURKE
is a barrister who previously worked for Louise Kennedy. Originally from Booterstown, Co Dublin, she studied English and psychology at UCD, then went back to study law and was called to the Bar in 2006. She lives in Killiney with her partner, Brian Donovan, and her four children
My wonderful father-in-law [the late Tony Ryan, father of Catherine’s ex-husband, Declan] had a dinner party where Louise and I met – and connected instantly. She’s one of the most natural, warm people. I just loved her. After that, I worked for her part-time over the years when my kids were small. That’s where we cemented our friendship. Then I met Caroline, her sister, who is equally fabulous: it’s so refreshing having good honest friends who you can say anything to, be yourself with.
We were very giddy. I remember going to France to buy fabrics, where we’d stay on a barge. It was great craic.
I grew up in Booterstown, went to UCD: then I had an attempt at a knitwear business, which fell flat on its face. Like my mum, Moninne, who has five brothers [including Lochlann and Ruairí Quinn], I’ve only got brothers too, so having Caroline and Louise . . . we’re like sisters, we’ve always felt like that.
I don’t know what I’d do without the two of them. In the 23 to 24 years we’ve known each other, my kids have got so used to Caroline and Louise being part of the family. I have three sons: Conor, 23, Eoin, 21 and Jack, 16 and one daughter, Ana, 13.
Caroline met her husband Tom [McGurk] at Ana’s christening. We kind of merged the families. My parents, brothers and kids adore Louise and Caroline. We have a lot of friends in common and Louise has become very close to my partner Brian.
Louise’s late father Jimmy, a Tipperary man, was a handsome, very dapper guy; so like my dad, Paul.
Caroline, myself and Louise go on holiday once a year – we pick a different city every year. As well as that, Louise has come away to France with me and my kids over the years.
We’ve done interesting things together, like going to Mongolia. I’m on the board of the Christina Noble Foundation and was asked to visit her project there. Louise was the first person I thought of asking to go with me – but Ulan Bator in the middle of winter isn’t anyone’s favourite idea for a holiday. I thought she’d go, er, Kitty, forget it. But no, she was on for it.
When I went back to study law Louise was just so encouraging. I think the key is being positive: whether it’s struggling with exams, teenagers or the usual things that happen in life. Louise is so pragmatic and real, that’s helped me through things.
One of the best parts of having a best friend like Louise is all those wonderful clothes and the fashion advice I get. My kids slag me about how many Louise Kennedy clothes I have.
is an international fashion designer whose clients have included Beyoncé and Meryl Streep as well as Mary McAleese. She started her business in Dublin in 1983, opened a store in London’s Belgravia in 2000, and also designs a range of crystal. She lives in the Merrion Square house which is also her flagship Irish store