Sotheby's man has fine Irish pedigree

Sat, Nov 3, 2012, 00:00

THE SOCIAL NETWORK:The chairman of Sotheby's Europe, Henry Wyndham, travelled from London for the private preview, at Sotheby's on Molesworth Street on Thursday evening, of highlights from the company's British & Irish Art Sale.

He was dubious about confirming whether George Wyndham, former chief secretary for Ireland, was a kinsman. "He's a relation of mine, but I think I had better keep that rather quiet, hadn't I?" he said.

After it was explained that George was looked on favourably in many quarters due to the Wyndham Land Purchase Act, he changed his tune: "I am, I'm directly related to George Wyndham who brought in the Wyndham Act. That's true." Wyndham caught up with the fine-art dealer Mark Fielding, from Dundrum, who previously worked at Sotheby's in Bond Street.

The chairwoman of Goff's, Eimear Mulhern, proved her political credentials when asked if she were buying or selling. "I'm viewing," she replied. She was paying particular attention to the equestrian portraits downstairs while chatting to Jacqueline O'Brien, the widow of the late horse trainer Vincent.

Princess Frances Colonna travelled in from Wicklow and was accompanied by her daughter, Donna Lucrezia Colonna. Lucrezia told me that she recently qualified as a barrister and is devilling with the barrister Paul Anthony McDermott.

Phyllis MacNamara, of Cobwebs in Galway, was accompanied by her friend Jimmy McGing, from Sandycove. McGing's family are from Westport but he grew up in India where his father worked as an engineer.

The director of the National Gallery of Ireland, Sean Rainbird, is enjoying his relatively new post in Dublin. The former director of Staatsgalerie of Stuttgart has been in the job for six months, lives on Baggot Street and walks everywhere "even to Heuston Station".

Despite the building and refurbishing work, which is ongoing at the National Gallery, Rainbird mentioned that "it is also good to keep the acquisitions going". It remains to be seen whether the gallery buys any of the works.

The art is on view at Sotheby's on Molesworth Street today until 5pm (Saturday) and the auction takes place in London on Tuesday, November 13.

Who we spotted The British ambassador, Dominick Chilcott; Lady Iona Conyngham from Slane Castle; Harry McDowell from Celbridge; Clodagh Duff from Laragh; Margaret Downes; Bruce Arnold; Miriam Campion; John Pat Colclough and his brother John Nick Colclough; the artist Bernadette Madden, on her way to the opening of Vue, the National Contemporary Art Fair in the RHA; the painter Esme Lewis, who is preparing for an exhibition at Ranelagh Arts Centre to coincide with her 75th birthday.

Poets on song

The Hon Garech Browne took the floor, literally, at the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland on Merrion Square on Wednesday evening for the launch of The Wild Dog Rose album, which features the poet John Montague and Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains. Browne knelt on the floor as he listened to Montague's poetry while Moloney, Kevin Conneff, Néillidh Mulligan, Sean Potts, Michael Tubridy and Peter Browne played.

"You should all be in the room where the music is taking place, if you enjoy music," said Browne to guests who had convened around the drinks table.

"This is not a photo shoot, that is what Claddagh Records isn't about," he said concerning photographs. The idea for the record label came from the late Dr Ivor Browne in 1958. Then others, including Montague, became involved in the project. When Montague took to the podium, Browne insisted on getting him a seat, which he didn't need.

There was obviously no dress rehearsal. "What do you think we should do now, Paddy?" Montague asked Moloney more than once after the latter had finished playing. It didn't matter, poetry and music spoke for themselves. Moloney played The Galway Reel for all the Galway people present, "especially for Dolly McMahon".

Who we spotted

Author Robert O'Byrne, who wrote Luggala Days - The Story of a Guinness House, which is being launched next Tuesday; the artist Anne Madden; the poet and former ambassador Richard Ryan and his wife Heeun; Paul McGuinness and Kathy Gilfillan; Brenda Jordan; Seamus and Marie Heaney.

A posse of pundits

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and broadcasters Eamon Dunphy and John Giles arrived like the magi to the Merrion Hotel on Tuesday evening for the launch of Bill O'Herlihy's book, We'll Leave It There So. Instead of bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh, they brought themselves. The Taoiseach sat down beside Dunphy and leaned across O'Herlihy, like St Peter in The Last Supper, to talk to Giles.

The throng of guests stood and just observed as photographers formed a semi-circle around the four men and papped them.

The broadcaster Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh beckoned at Dunphy, who was by now dazzled from all flash photography, and asked, "Will I come in? You all right?" They were; it was men only.

The Taoiseach said he wore a red and white tie in honour of "the favourite son of Glasheen" in Cork; O'Herlihy was togged out in a similar tie with a narrower stripe. Kenny got a laugh when he said "de banks" have a different resonance for Cork people than for the rest of us.

The Taoiseach also told us that the late Joan Fitzgerald had asked O'Herlihy to stand for the presidency. "I'm not sure if, God rest her, Joan might have been concerned that they might be trying to put Garret, God rest him, up to the presidency."

O'Herlihy's wife, Hilary, who was accompanied by their daughters, Jill and Sally, said the book "was a long time coming".

Who we spotted Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte; former sports presenter Fred Cogley.

Stoked up

Sen David Norris provided much entertainment at a talk entitled Dracula and his Legacy at the Bram Stoker Festival last Sunday evening and informed us of his blood link to the Gothic author: "Stoker is lucky enough to be related to me."

Dr Jarlath Killeen of Trinity College Dublin chaired the event and brought to mind why his lectures at college had above-average attendance. He described the book as quasi-pornographic and Dracula as "the kind of man men want to be and women want to be with". Norris then lamented that he himself must be "the most respectable connection in the family". It's certainly hard to contend with the antics of a vampire.

The crime writer Ruth Dudley-Edwards said it was simply a "rattling good story" and that writers have been known to write for money. Norris laughingly concurred he had written his recent autobiography for such reasons. He had just returned from signing A Kick Against the Pricks in Galway, where, he said, he received a very warm welcome.

Who we spotted

John Moore, who has the largest collection of Stoker material in the world and is currently exhibiting it at The Little Museum of Dublin. Bram Stoker's great-grandson Robin MacCaw, who was visiting from the UK and had been learning about his ancestor from panellist and biographer Paul Murray. MacCaw said he was delighted by the festival. Meadhbh McHugh

Bright young social things

The Fair City actor Aoibhín Garrihy was among the guests at the Westin Hotel on Monday evening to mark the publication of Social & Personal magazine's "Bright Young Things" list.

Names on the list include the Irish event rider Camilla Speirs; the fashion designer Zoe Rocha, who is a daughter of John Rocha; and Chloe Townsend of Willow & Clo jewellery, who is the sister of the actor Stuart Townsend.

The fashion designer Dawn Fitzgerald told me her friend Rosanna Davison will be at the spring/summer 2013 fashion preview in Fitzgerald's store in the Powerscourt Centre on November 20th. Declan Leavy of TheDailyUpdate.ie said he had been to a private viewing of Abercrombie & Fitch on College Green earlier that day.

Who we spotted PJ Gibbons and Richard Kavanagh of Social & Personal; Alex Farrell of Diep Le Shaker; Laura Hogan, the creative director of Fran & Jane.