Unflappable Clinton shines on rainy night

THE last time someone was publicly feted on Raglan Road, poor Patrick Kavanagh was smitten and a future US president was in nappies.

At the weekend that future, now past, president took the place of the dark-haired beauty who inspired Kavanagh to verse and prompted some lyrical waxing of his own.

Bill Clinton’s visit to No 37 on the famed thoroughfare took place on a squally, sodden autumn day in Ballsbridge.

Guests arrived hidden underneath umbrellas much to the frustration of the celebrity-watching photographers. Sadly for the photographers, the watch was not terribly fruitful. Either Ireland’s glitterati were at home watching X Factor or they were choosing to glow at a very low wattage.

Mandatory uniform for the occasion seemed to be demure dresses for the ladies and dour suits for the gents.

In fairness, there was a little glamour amid the gloom. Socialite stylist Lisa Fitzpatrick turned heads as she made a smiling entry with hotelier husband Paul of the Fitzpatrick Hotel group, as did model Vivienne Connolly, who was partnered by her husband, Mark Dunne of the Dunnes Stores dynasty.

Property developer Noel Smyth and his wife, Anne Marie, posed like they were happy to be there and Gerry Ryan grinned like a street light.

The umbrellas, on the other hand, had real star quality. There were Fendis and Burberrys as well as a whole array of power brollies — big golf-sized domes bearing the brand names of the giants of property development, engineering and financial wheeler dealing.

Beneath them were the likes of former minister and now director of the Construction Industry Federation Tom Parlon, aviation industry supremo Ulick McEvaddy and independent television entrepreneur David Harvey.

Bill, as is his knack, outshone the lot. Even arriving late after running over time in a meeting with Bertie Ahern and a brief walkabout in the city centre.

Only a couple of dozen onlookers gathered to see him but he responded to their cheers of greeting with a wave and a smile that could have addressed 10,000. He didn’t hear the lone protestor who roared “Investigate 9/11” and even if he had, it wouldn’t have broken his stride.

His unflappability was matched only by his hosts, solicitors Brian Farren and his wife Lisa O’Shea Farren, who only realised their three-storey over basement Georgian pad wouldn’t accommodate all who wanted to attend the €1,500-a-head fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential election campaign two days earlier.

Not a bother, they thought. We’ll erect a marquee and move the affair out of doors.

Bill only stayed an hour- and-a-half but unlike events in Wales earlier in the afternoon, it was 90 minutes of pure crowd-pleasing. After being introduced by Declan Kelly of Financial Dynamics, the public relations chief who organised the affair on behalf of Irish-Americans for Hillary, Bill spoke for 20 minutes before meeting each of the 150 guests in turn and standing for photographs with every one of them.

He urged everybody present to phone, email, write and persuade their family, friends and acquaintances with votes in the US to vote for Hillary. Then he was off as quick as he arrived, a past Mr President working for a future Mrs President, leaving 150 admirers ambling happily along a very enchanted way.

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