The Social Network



Spoiling us with music and Mozartkugel

Aglaë Hagg-Thun, wife of the Austrian ambassador to Ireland, Dr Walter Hagg, was carrying on a family tradition on Wednesday evening at the Austrian Embassy on Ailesbury Road, where she and her husband hosted a concert with the Irish contestants in the 2012 Dublin International Piano Competition.

Hagg-Thun told me that her great-great-great-great-grandmother Wilhelmine, Countess von Thun und Hohenstein – a daughter of Princess von Lobkowitz – was a patron of Mozart. “She arranged for Mozart to leave the Archbishop of Salzburg and come to Vienna to be independent.”

Joseph Brennan, the former deputy chief of protocol at the Department of Foreign Affairs, technically retired on February 29th. He told me he’s back at the Department as “an unpaid consultant”. The best-placed Irish performer in the piano competition wins the Brennan prize, which was donated by Joseph’s family.

A former winner of that prize, Finghin Collins, who is now on the board of the competition, was preparing to travel to Bournemouth to play with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as part of its St Patrick’s Day celebrations. Anytime Collins is a guest of the ambassador – who has a good tenor voice – he ends up accompanying him on the piano.

After a drinks reception guests went downstairs to hear the three Irish contestants, Nadene Fiorentini, Ben Shaffrey and Maire Carroll, perform. Hagg-Thun presented them with Mozartkugel confectionery.

After the recital, guests were entertained once again upstairs in the drawingroom. This is decorated with portraits of the Taaffe family, who were part of the Wild Geese that served in the army of the Habsburg empire in the 1700s.

Virginia Kerr told me she’s preparing to sing in Mozart’s Requiem at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Good Friday.

Kerr was deep in conversation with Liz Mansergh, the wife of former minister Martin Mansergh. They are based in Dublin but Martin spends some time in Tipperary. “We’re not really separated. We’re just separated by the N7,” she joked.

Martin was having a chat with former attorney general and EU commissioner David Byrne SC, who is the chairman of the National Treasury Management Agency. Byrne was wearing a decoration in his buttonhole. “It’s an honour from the land of Salzburg.”

Who we spottedBoard members of the NCH Laurie Cearr and John McGrane; artist Jim Harkin; Sandra Morris and her friend Maria Doyle

What we ateCanapes and ice cream

What we drankGrüner Veltliner 2010 of Michaela Jöbstl in Langenlois

Stars on a mission Improbable

The fashion designer Richard Lewis was one of the first to arrive at the opening of Rough Magic’s Improbable Frequency at the Gaiety Theatre on Thursday evening. He told me he is working on his new collection but has stopped holding fashion shows. Instead he sends out cards to clients. People are welcome to browse in his South Frederick Street base from 10am to 2pm on Fridays, or by appointment.

Lewis attended a private screening of a new documentary on Nuala O’Faolain, Nuala: A Life, A Death, on Wednesday evening and highly recommends it. Narrated by Marian Finucane, the film will be aired on Monday evening on RTÉ1 at 9.30pm. Finucane is a client of Richard’s, and he also used to create clothes for Nuala. He was accompanied to the opening by artist Bernadette Madden, whose batik works are currently on show at the Gordon Gallery in Derry.

Seamus Hosey, a senior producer at RTÉ Radio 1, took some time out from reading short stories for the Francis McManus short story competition. He told me he had received more than 1,200 submissions.

Public relations executive Astrid Brennan was excited about meeting Mia Farrow at the Unicef Ireland annual mothers’ day lunch in the Four Seasons Hotel yesterday. Farrow is a global Unicef goodwill ambassador, and was the guest of honour at the lunch, where Marty Whelan was master of ceremonies.

Declan Buckley, presenter of Telly Bingo and also known as Shirley Temple Bar, was looking forward to the last Alternative Miss Ireland Competition, which is on tomorrow at the Olympia Theatre. He was catching up with Andrew Hetherington of Business to Arts, and the professor of computer science at Trinity College, Marie Redmond, who is the chairwoman of Rough Magic.

Who we spottedMusician Paul Brady; broadcasters Gay Byrne and Joe Duffy; Lynne Parker, artistic director of Rough Magic; Michael Barker-Caven, artistic director of the Everyman Palace Theatre

Doing the Butterfly by the banks of the canal

The social butterflies were hovering around the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre on Monday evening for Opera North’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Frank McGuinness told me he loves the opera. He has a busy year ahead of him and revealed that a play of his will be performed at the National Theatre in London and at the Abbey later in the year. Neither the National Theatre in London nor the Abbey would confirm which play it is. “He’d know more than we would at this stage,”said a spokesperson for the National, while a spokesperson for the Abbey said: “We need to have a word with Frank. It hasn’t been made public yet that a play of his will be staged.”

Children’s TV presenter Diana Bunici was accompanied by her mother Maria. The family moved to Ireland 16 years ago from Moldova. “Opera is part of my Russian culture,” Maria told me.

Anne Cassin arrived with her sister Lillian Cassin. Anne has settled into her new role as a presenter on Nationwide. She told me it “gets stories on air not normally shown. The show is about – dare I say it – normal people. I am certainly getting to know the country a bit better.”

Today she will not be at the parade but will be celebrating the sporting achievements of local hurlers and footballers in Ballyboden St Enda’s GAA club, which she has supported for many years.

Anne’s co-presenter on Nationwide, Mary Kennedy, turned up with her friend Betty Murphy.

Who we spottedKathleen Watkins and Sen Marie-Louise O’Donnell; Ireland AM’s Sinead Desmond; RTÉ radio producer Aonghus McAnally; Brian Glynn from the Department of Foreign Affairs; Phyllis MacNamara of Cobwebs in Galway.

The creme of the crop

Fair City actors Aoibhín Garrihy and Aoibheann McCaul – who play sisters Neasa and Caoimhe – enjoy hanging out together off-screen. McCaul told me she met Juice TV presenter Katie Van Buren at this year’s Irish Film and Television Awards, so they arranged to meet up on Tuesday evening for the launch of Kiehl’s new Pearl Daisy Lowe creme de corps at the Kiehl’s shop on Wicklow Street to support Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

Aoibheann had intended to throw a party for St Patrick’s Day but instead she’s going to a house party in Temple Bar. She was looking forward to the St Patrick’s Festival Céilí in St Stephen’s Green yesterday; she’s had a fondness for Irish dancing ever since she attended Coláiste Lurgan in the Galway Gaeltacht.

Darren Kennedy was contemplating what to wear to the VIP Style Awards next Friday. He returned from San Diego last week where he was recording a surfing episode for his Channel 5 travel programme, Holiday Heaven on Earth. His partner, the playwright Aidan Harney, told me his play Hollywood Valhalla, which opened in Bewley’s last month, returns to the Focus Theatre in April.

Suzanne Kane of 4FM chatted to Dirty Epics lead singer SJ Wai O’Flynn. O’Flynn was joined on the evening by her sister Nadine King, the proud new mum of a boy named Cameron.

What we drankChampagne

Brekkie and Bressie

A VIP St Patrick’s Day pre-parade breakfast and lunch takes place today in the rooftop restaurant of MS on Grafton Street. Guests include Bernard Dunne, who will be using his cúpla focal, architect Dermot Bannon, Lorraine Keane, fresh from Girls Night – The Musical, and Brian Kennedy, who will be relaxing for a few hours from mentoring his acts on The Voice of Ireland. Meanwhile Bressie, his co-adjudicator on the talent show, will be hitting the Eclectic Garden at the Porterhouse in Bray tomorrow for an exclusive DJ set. He will be whisked straight from the live show at the Helix to DJ at the Mother’s Day treat in the garden.

A Georgian president

The acting president of the Irish Georgian Society, Prof Kevin B Nowlan, announced the appointment of Patrick Guinness as the new president of the society at Wednesday’s AGM. Prof Nowlan expressed his sadness at the death last September of Desmond FitzGerald, the Knight of Glin, who had been president since 1991. Patrick read law at Trinity College and worked in the City of London until 1992. He was a representative for Sotheby’s and has sponsored research on the genetics of Irish clans. He paid tribute to the contribution his parents, Hon Desmond and Mariga Guinness, made in the protection of Ireland’s heritage through the founding of the Irish Georgian Society in 1958.