And the award goes to ... the boys in black

STRAPPY gowns and forceful frowns were the special ingredients that went into making it the biggest night of the year on the Irish social calendar.

While busty beauties in figure-hugging designer dresses may have dominated the red carpet at the RDS on Saturday night, it was the boys in black-tie who claimed ownership of this year’s Irish Film and Television awards (IFTA) with the most important accolades going to male TV presenters and actors.

Although viewing figures may be considerably higher for the respective RTÉ chat shows of Pat Kenny and Ryan Tubridy, neither of whom were nominated or attended, the crown of TV Personality of the Year was firmly placed on TV3’s Ireland AM host Mark Cagney.

“I’m still in shock, I really can’t believe it,” smiled Cagney, who was nominated alongside the likes of newsreader Grainne Seoige and comedian Pat Shortt.

“He was genuinely surprised when I called out his name, I’m thrilled for him he really deserves it,” said TV3 presenter Claire Byrne, who last year picked up the same award.

Grainne Seoige, who has so far failed to pick up a golden statuette having been nominated in the same category for the past three years, immediately made a beeline for Cagney’s table to offer her congratulations.

Star of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, David Kelly, was later honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award.

“It’s bizarre to be honoured in this way for something you really love doing,” he said.

Hollywood heart-throbs Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell both paid tribute to Kelly via video link, which was broadcast in advance of Kelly’s receiving the gong.

“David, you’re my idol,” gushed Depp.

While this may not have been their year to dominate the stage, Ireland’s most famous female stars certainly knew how to dazzle as they wowed in breathtaking designer creations.

With racy red ruling as the colour of choice for most, singer Andrea Corr chose to opt for a dusty pink frilled cocktail-style dress and black strappy heels. RTÉ presenter Kathryn Thomas, meanwhile, shimmied up the red carpet in a stunning silver halterneck gown.

Although the worlds of Irish stage and screen were well represented, there were few well-known international faces in attendance on this occasion. A few exceptions were Hollywood actress Mischa Barton, star of the OC, who jetted in to present one of the awards, model Caprice and Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave, who took to the stage to accept a best actor award for her son-in-law, Liam Neeson.

Other famous faces included Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack, Colm Meaney, Sean McGinley, Eileen Dunne, Neil Jordan and Gay Byrne. Pop group Liberty X also showed up to entertain the crowd.

Irish Film and Television Award Winners:

TV PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR: Mark Cagney (TV3)

BEST ACTRESS: Renee Weldon (The Trouble with Sex)

BEST ACTOR: Liam Neeson (Kinsey)

BEST DIRECTOR: Terry George (Hotel Rwanda)

BEST LIFESTYLE: Eddie Hobbs (Show me the Money)

BEST INTERNATIONAL ACTOR: Mickey Rourke (Sin City)

BEST INTERNATIONAL ACTRESS: Gillian Anderson (The Mighty Celt)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: David Kelly.

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