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Splish, splash at Taste of Dublin bash

The rain left a bad taste in our mouths at the opening of Taste of Dublin in the Iveagh Gardens on Thursday afternoon. The much-hyped Jamie Oliver was nowhere to be seen, having been whisked away to the press tent on arrival. He was spotted outside at one point – and given a taste of a typical Dublin summer.

Brendan O’Connor is no stranger to the rain. A few weeks ago, when the sun was shining here, he was drenched in Italy. He’s looking forward to spending some time in Cork and Kerry in July with his family.

Ryan Tubridy told me that he travelled to Knoxville, Tennessee, last week to surprise his friend Jon Ferrie, whom he hadn’t seen for a while. Ferrie runs the Irish Times Pub Restaurant there. Tubridy went on to Graceland “to pay my respects to the King”.

One man not wearing blue suede shoes on Thursday was the head of Honda in Ireland, Michael Maughan, who arrived from Shrewsbury Road. “It’s a good job I’m wearing rubber soles,” he told me as he navigated the puddles.

JR Ryall, from near Ballyhooly, in Cork, accompanied Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House, who was catching up with members of Euro-toques Ireland. Ryall, who graduated from Trinity with a degree in biochemistry, is a pastry chef at Ballymaloe. “He’s been working in Ballymaloe during his school holidays since he was 15,” said Allen.

Rosanna Davison was excited about travelling to Hanover, in Germany, this weekend for a Gerry Webber fashion show. Davison’s friend Gillian Fitzpatrick has just returned from a trip to Ibiza with her husband, James Dargan Ward, who is a descendant of William Dargan, the 19th-century Irish engineer.

Celebrity chef Stuart O’Keeffe, who is based in Los Angeles, was also mingling in the VIP suite. He was nursing a broken arm in a cast. “I was riding a motorcycle when a car hit me,” he said. O’Keeffe, born in Tipperary, has featured on the US TV show Private Chefs of Beverly Hills and is participating in the Kanchi Dine in the Dark pop-up restaurant during Taste of Dublin. O’Keeffe told me that he did the catering at a fundraising dinner for President Obama in the Hollywood home of the Glee creator and director Ryan Murphy earlier this month.

Siobhán O’Connor of 98FM said she was preparing for a Trek4Life, which will take place in Jordan in September, in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.

Who we spottedPaul McGuinness; Glenda Gilson; Glenn Fitzpatrick of Microsoft; Alex Fitzgerald of Irish Tatler Man; 98FM newsreader Brendan O’Loughlin; Riyadh Khalaf of Spin 103

What we drankChampagne

What we ateSampled tasters from many restaurants

Big introductions all round at Gore-Booth launch

It was a bit like an ardfheis at the launch of Eva Gore-Booth: An Image of Such Politics, by Sonja Tiernan, on Monday evening in the Oak Room of the Mansion House. Catriona Crowe, of the National Archives of Ireland, gave something of a warm-up speech as she introduced Prof Diarmaid Ferriter, who launched the book. Ferriter recently resigned from the board of the National Library of Ireland in protest at the Government’s plans to merge the archives into the library.

“While he needs no introduction, he’s going to get one, because he’s an old friend of mine, and I very rarely get to say nice things about him in public,” began Crowe. “Those of us trying to battle with administrative plans to try and do us harm are extremely lucky to have such a passionate, articulate and charismatic figurehead.”

When Ferriter eventually took to the podium, he said it was just as well that he had a bit of a tan, “because I’m blushing”.

The former keeper of manuscripts at the National Library, Gerard Lyne, is enjoying his retirement. He is writing a book about a captain in the Irish Brigade, called Mortaí­ Óg O’Súilleabháin, who was killed by English forces in his home in Eyeries, Co Cork, in 1754. His manservant wrote a great lament in Irish, which Lyne recited for The Irish Times as Gaeilge. It was along the lines of Crowe’s introduction to Ferriter, and begins, “Dear Master, how regal were you . . .”

Who we spottedThe author’s three nephews Marc, Conor and Lorcan Tiernan (Marc is reading law at TCD, and his two brothers are at Gonzaga); Liz McManus; author Pat McCabe; former TD Martin Mansergh

What we drankLuis Felipe Edwards Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

What we ateCrisps

It's a 'House' away from home at the Abbey for this acting dynasty

The actor Sinéad Cusack flew in from London earlier this week to spend a few days in Dublin. On Wednesday evening she accompanied her son, the United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett, to the Abbey Theatre for Tom Murphy’s The House.

She told me she’s taking part in Dalkey Book Festival this weekend and is “in conversation with” Marian Finucane tomorrow at 6.20pm at the Heritage Centre in Dalkey.

Meanwhile, Boyd Barrett is giving a talk, Joyce and the Perpetual Revolution, today at McDonagh’s on Castle Street in Dalkey.

Frank Walker and Brenda Staunton turned up to support their sister, Catherine Walker, who was starring in the play. Walker arrived in from Raheny, while Staunton travelled up from Louisburgh in Co Mayo.

Olwen Fouéré told me she’s “making a new piece” on Finnegans Wake: Book IV. Conor McPherson said he’s “writing away at the moment and working on new stuff at home.”

Who we spottedRetired High Court judge Bryan MacMahon; costume designer Joan Bergin; playwright Aidan Harney.

Outnumbered by Spanish players

It was four Spanish composers versus one Irish composer at Xuefei Yang’s guitar recital, at the KBC Great Music in Irish Houses at the Little Museum of Dublin, on St Stephen’s Green, on Thursday evening. It was billed as “a musical salute to Spain and Ireland”, with music by the Spanish composers Rodrigo, De Falla, Albéniz and Tárrega, and our own Benjamin Dwyer from Chapelizod. “The odds are against me, like the match later on this evening,” said Dwyer.

The concert started at 6pm and was over in time to facilitate soccer fans, who later watched Ireland being beaten 4-0.

This evening the mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught will perform at Killruddery House, in Co Wicklow, as part of the festival. The curator of the Little Museum of Dublin, Simon O’Connor, told me the museum is hosting a Bloomsday drinks party at 6pm today with Sen David Norris as the guest of honour. Tickets cost €50, including three raffle tickets. Canapes will be prepared by Michelin-starred chef Kevin Thornton.

A writer needs a good reader

It’s unusual to see the newsreader Sharon Ní Bheoláin in full-length, as she’s usually behind the RTÉ news desk. On Wednesday evening she waited on Dawson Street for her partner, the veterinarian Finbarr Heslin, to accompany her to the International Impac Dublin Literary Award at the Mansion House. Evening shoppers vied with each other to catch a glimpse of Ní Bheoláin.

Lt Col Brian Cleary and his wife, Martina, also caused heads to turn on Dawson Street. Cleary, who is based at McKee Barracks, was in his mess uniform, which is worn by officers as formal evening dress.

The winner of this year’s Impac award was Jon McGregor’s Even the Dogs, which scooped a prize of €100,000. It is the largest award for a single novel published in English.

Joe Duffy, who was joined by his wife, June Meehan, at the award ceremony, told me that he started reading McGregor’s novel but found it very bleak. He is enjoying Grape Expectations by Caro Feely. “If you like wine, you’ll love that book,” said Duffy.

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