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Good timing pays off again for Cecelia Ahern

Paul McGinley pitches up in Ballsbridge; BBC Northern Ireland journalists get good gigs; Sharon Horgan enjoys literary success; and Fianna Fail decides to run new and not so new names

Cecelia Ahern told Ryan Tubridy’s new podcast, The Bookshelf, last week that one of the reasons she dropped out of a master’s degree in film production in the early 2000s was because it involved presenting ideas in front of the class. Ahern was terrified of public speaking, which she attributes to being nervous for her father, Bertie Ahern, when he had to address the Dáil or ardfheiseanna.

Ironically, dropping out allowed her to write full-time and she has since written 18 novels, several short stories and a handful of screenplays. The author and her husband, David Keoghan, have enjoyed similarly good timing in the property market. Last year they sold their home in Abbotts Hill in Malahide, north Dublin for €2.6 million, €300,000 more than they paid for it nine years earlier. They have since bought a sprawling €1.45 million bungalow in the Broomfield area of Malahide and have just received planning permission for a new boundary wall and entrance gates. P.S., they’re loaded.

Paul McGinley joins an exclusive Dublin club

Golfer Paul McGinley has joined the who’s who of residents in Lansdowne Place, Ballsbridge, the apartment development for those with serious green in the heart of Dublin 4. McGinley, who has lived in Berkshire in England for the last two decades, chipped in €1.89 million for his unit, where neighbouring owners include Roy Keane, Mike Murphy and Rod Stewart – what a four-ball that would be.

Last year the development set a Dublin record when a 5,000sq ft apartment sold for €6.9 million. Another penthouse, this one measuring a whopping 8,000sq ft, is on the market for €7.5 million, according to Mansion Global, a high-end property website owned by Dow Jones.


We’re not sure if even McGinley would have that type of wedge.

Beeb hosts get the most?

RTÉ journalists have begun to submit details of “external activities” for inclusion in the broadcaster’s forthcoming register, which is due to be published online at the end of June. If RTÉ's Northern Ireland-based counterparts in the BBC are anything to go by, the side hustles could prove to be surprisingly lucrative.

The Beeb’s latest publication of external activities, for the final quarter of 2023, shows several well-paid gigs apiece declared by journalists such as Mark Simpson and Mark Carruthers. Simpson declared six events in the final quarter of last year, including hosting events for Intertrade Ireland and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust for which he was paid between £1,000 (€1,166) and £5,000 apiece (they don’t break it down any further).

Carruthers was similarly busy, declaring five gigs, including hosting events for the Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care for somewhere between €1,000 and €5,000 and another for Derry City and Strabane District Council for a similar sum.

Read it and reap

Actor-writer-producer Sharon Horgan may never win a Booker Prize but the series of short films made by her company, Merman Productions, to showcase each year’s shortlist is becoming an annual event in itself. For this year’s International Booker Prize, an award for novels translated into English, Horgan convinced six well-known UK performers to read extracts from the shortlist, including Dua Lipa, Eleanor Tomlinson and Tobias Menzies. It’s the third year in a row that Merman got the gig, with the Booker saying the videos have been seen by more than 20 million people in that period – a multiple of the number that will ever get around to reading one of the books.

Tel them about it

The Department of Children has been advertising internationally for those seeking to apply to the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme, which opened last month. The public awareness campaign includes social media posts and online advertising but also old-fashioned advertisements in local and national newspapers in the UK and Australia and regional newspapers in the United States. It is also running print ads in publications targeted at the Irish community overseas. The department would not give a breakdown of the publications it is targeting last week, saying it was commercially sensitive. But your columnist was surprised to see one in the Brexit-cheerleading Daily Telegraph, which seldom has a kind word to say about Ireland.

Timely delivery

The Government has made it easier for immigrants to vote in the forthcoming local and European elections. A statutory instrument was passed last week widening the types of photographic ID acceptable to both nominate a candidate and as proof of identity at polling stations. In June, those without an Irish passport or driving licence can use a temporary residence certificate, a Garda National Immigration Bureau card or an Irish Residence Permit. Good news for candidates such as Brazilian Caio Benício, who will be standing as a candidate for Fianna Fáil in Dublin.

Fianna Fáil rally around familiar name

Seán Haughey will not contest the next general election but there may be another Haughey in politics by that stage. Cathal Haughey, a son of Conor Haughey and grandson of Charlie, is running for Fianna Fáil in the local elections having lost out narrowly in 2019, and the party hierarchy is giving him every help this time round.

Haughey, who works as a secretarial assistant to senator Paul Daly in Leinster House, has had a stellar list of Fianna Fáil grandees canvassing with in the Howth-Malahide area in recent weeks, including no less than Micheál Martin, Darragh O’Brien, Jack Chambers and Barry Andrews. An heir to the dynasty?

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