Yvonne Keating says she has never been happier.
The ex-model has a burgeoning media career, a new man, and, now that her ex has found love with the TV executive Storm Uechtritz, the dust has finally settled on her marriage breakdown.
Many people were shocked when, in 2010, it was revealed that Boyzone singer Ronan Keating had cheated on his wife; and there was great sadness when Yvonne called a day on that once golden marriage.
Earlier this year she spoke candidly about her feelings at the time; revealing a meeting she had with the ‘other woman’, Francine Cornell. But since meeting her new beau, cameraman John Conroy, it is clear Yvonne has put all that pain behind her.
She says she got through those dark days with the support of her family, and some friends.
“There’s nothing like sharing a bottle of wine to sort out the world,” she says, and indeed that is exactly what she did with Francine, when she arranged a meeting in a hotel bedroom in London to discuss Ronan. A meeting that was to be brief and formal became casual and very lengthy, as both women found themselves discussing the ‘man in the middle’ at length. They swapped stories over a bottle of wine and the conversation lasted six or seven hours.
“When we were in that room, we were two broken girls. Because she realised that everything with her was a lie as well. In fairness to him [Ronan], there were two broken girls, but he was broken after it, too,” Yvonne said afterwards.
But today, Yvonne says she turns to her Dublin friends for comfort in times of stress, and one of these is former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s daughter.
“Cecelia Ahern is one of my best friends. She is kooky, quirky and very supportive. She is the best person when you are feeling down. When other people are pandering to you, and saying, ‘Are you OK?’ she is the one to say something and make you laugh.”
How, though, did Yvonne’s three children, Jack, 14, Missy, 12, and eight-year-old Ali cope with their father’s defection?
“I’ve learned that children are very resilient. I always have to tell them things, because if I don’t they will hear it from a friend, a paper or online. When myself and Ronan broke up we didn’t tell anyone for a long time. We told the kids first so that by the time they got people saying it to them, it was raw, but not as raw.
“It’s hard for Ronan and I to make arrangements, Most separated people have a system where one parent has the children every second weekend, and one person every Wednesday. Ours is an unusual situation where there is one parent living in another country with a lifestyle and career there, so obviously, it’s very difficult. We just have to put the children first and be adult and try to sort it out. It is very important to them that they see both of us.”
We saw Yvonne on our screens in the summer, when she reached semi-final of RTÉ’s Celebrity Masterchef. That, she says, was terrifying. “I was a great ball of stress. But I learned not just about cooking, but also about relaxing, and how when something goes wrong you just move on.”
Since then she’s had a few cookery slots performing on ITV’s This Morning, live to an audience of a million. “You have 10 minutes to do a dish, and that is the most nerve-wracking thing. The first time I had to be pushed on, but there’s this whole adrenaline rush. Afterwards it was like, ‘Let me do it again’.!”
It’s a busy life for Yvonne but she relishes it all. We’re chatting as she launches Bord Na Mona’s campaign encouraging families to relax together round an open fire. “I will go home after this, pick up the children, bring them to their parties, their rugby training, and horse riding, and, then, when everyone is home from their activities, I’ll light the fire and I’ll cook.”
Yvonne says she doesn’t regret being in the public eye. “The media have been very fair to me.” And now daughter Missy is following in her parents’ footsteps. “She made three films last year. Two were just shown at the Cork Film Festival; a third, Gold, with 12-year-old Jimmy Nesbitt is being shown at a private screening soon. Missy loves it. It’s not the fame. For her, it’s about the craft, the learning and the character development. She is 100% focused.”
Yvonne is eagerly anticipating Christmas. “It’s to be at home this year, for the first time in 10 years. Normally we meet friends and family at the K Club. There will be lots of eating and drinking and making merry.”
And what about that other date, Feb 8, when Yvonne will be forty? “If you had asked me when I was 30, I would have said, ‘Oh My God!’ But I’m comfortable in my skin. There’s less pressure at 40. You can enjoy life a bit more. I’m looking forward to it.”
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