The A-Listers hiding in plain sight: As Rihanna is spotted at the cricket, who are the celebs who have been living under our noses in Ireland? Ed Power reports.
Rihanna was about to make her entrance at Dublin’s 3Arena when a man wearing a jaunty hat dashed to his seat. He was accompanied by a woman and by a boy in his early teens.
As the lights went down and the music came on all three began to groove. The man seemed especially enthusiastic. Rihanna broke into Only Girl (In the World) and away he bopped. It was possibly the most fun he’d had since bagging the Academy Award for Best Actor.
A pop concert in Dublin was not where you would expect to encounter multiple Oscar-winner and method acting figurehead Daniel Day-Lewis. Yet here he was, at Dublin’s 3Arena (the O2 as it was then known) in 2011, with his playwright wife, Rebeca Miller, and one of their two sons.
Day-Lewis was by that point a long-time resident of Count Wicklow.
He lived among us, breathing the same air and attending the same pop concerts. So was it any surprise he and his family might fancy an evening of mildly provocative r’n b? Presumably followed by a dash along the quays by rickshaw to make the last bus to Wicklow town?
Celebs are often portrayed as having recently descended from Mount Olympus, so that it comes as a mild surprise to discover that they exist in our world rather than some Instagram-hued neverland.
The a-listers know this too. Which is why they’ve become practiced at maintaining a low profile. Day-Lewis and his retinue didn’t take their seats until 3Arena was plunged into darkness.
Thus they were spared having to deal with drunken gawkers (when Louis Walsh sat in the same seats for another concert he was pestered half the evening).
That same ability to be invisible in plain sight explains how Taylor Swift and her British boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, spend their Christmas in Limerick.
The world’s biggest pop star was at Glin Castle in Limerick for an entire fortnight and nobody noticed. She even spent an evening at the local pub, O’Shaughnessy’s , where she and Alwyn went unrecognised. Swift actually bought a ticket for the local GAA club lotto, but failed to win. It is believed she will address this crushing set-back on her upcoming album.
Ten years previously, Michael Jackson was able to move lock, stock and family to Grouse Lodge studios in Westmeath. From this unlikely base in the Midlands he hoped to reboot his career.
Top hit-makers such as Black Eyed Pea Will.i.am were flew in to work on new material. Operation Jacko was go and it was all happening a few miles from Athlone.
Jackson, by every account, developed an obsession with motoring around suburban Dublin during this time. He would have his driver take him to Dun Laoghaire and to Darndale, where locals gawped at the fancy car with blackened windows.
“He’d be inside looking out, taking it all in,” one Irish musician, who wished to remain nameless told me.
“He was fascinated by it.”
Smiths singer Morrissey was likewise a devotee of Dublin’s hinterlands. He for many years lived in the west of the city and was rumoured to drink at the old-school Submarine bar (apparently his ardour cooled when it was refurbished).
Morrissey could have swapped Dublin gossip with The Cure’s Robert Smith. The spiky-haired singer took time at his recent Malahide concert to reminisce about the time in the mid Eighties when he lived in Dun Laoghaire and walked along the Dart line.
As Daniel Day-Lewis at Rihanna confirmed actors, too, are no slouch at moving in our midst as mere mortals. Consider the case of Jeremy Irons.
Until he struck upon the marvellous idea of applying a bright pink paint job to his restored castle at Kilcoe near Ballydehob, the Oscar-winner passed more or less unnoticed in West Cork.
Another fan of West Cork is model and actress Emily Ratajkowski, who has described Bantry as her “second home”. Her businessman father, John Ratajkowski, bought and renovated a house there 20 years ago. Bantry pops up regularly on her Instagram account.
"I absolutely love Ireland. It's one of the most beautiful places on earth and I have strong ties here,” she said in 2013.
"I go back any time I get the opportunity and I have many friends who I still hang out with in the local pubs. I have great childhood memories cow-tipping, going off and getting lost in the bog for hours and coming home covered in dirt.”
Welcome to a world where Emily Ratajkowski says “cow-tipping”.
One of the more surreal instances of a celeb making themselves at home here was Kanye West, who dragged his new wife, Kim Kardashian, to Ireland for their honeymoon in 2014.
After a discreet, understated wedding in Florence – which had followed a pre-nuptials bash at Versailles – this was a back-to-basics trip with a vengeance.
Highlights were said to include at stop-off at a multiplex in Portlaoise, where they watched Angelia Jolie in Maleficent.
They also stayed at Castle Oliver in Limerick, embarked on a cycling tour around Bruff (the Versailles of east Limerick) and went to a second cinema, in Tullamore. Kardashian later said she “fell in love” with Ireland, describing it as a “calming, relaxing place”.
There are exceptions to the rule that celebs can move in in our midst unseen of course. Marlon Brando was notoriously snapped by paparazzi in his dressing gown staying in East Cork making doomed mid-Nineties movie Divine Rapture.
Johnny Depp, rumoured to be staying in nearby Castlemartyr under the assumed name of Johnny Murphy, was likewise on the most-wanted list that summer.
But that was then. It’s possible we’ve become more jaded towards celebs in the intervening decades. Before playing Cork’s Live at the Marquee in 2009, Lady Gaga is reported to have rocked up at the Rising Tide pub in Glounthane to slam whiskeys with locals.
A few selfie moments ensued but her visit didn’t quite burn the internet down.
Perhaps we’re all so exhausted from being bombarded by celebs on social media and elsewhere that when we encounter them in real life it’s hard to care too much.