The Irish fixer who made Kimye’s dreams come true

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s idea of fun is mixing with other celebrities, eating very little at the finest restaurants, and shopping, shopping, shopping. Surprise, surprise! So why did she and her husband, rapper Kanye West, choose Ireland for their honeymoon?

The Irish fixer who made Kimye’s dreams come true

Siobhán Byrne Learat, the woman who made sure they had every luxury possible here, knows better than to tell.

As the founder and CEO of Adams & Butler, travel agents to the super-rich and famous, Siobhán is used to dealing with celebrities from all over the world, catering to their every need and — most importantly — keeping schtum about it.

She and her team had to put their skates for the couple jointly known as Kimye, as they had less than a week to put the whole itinerary together.

“I got a phone call the Monday before they came here, telling me that a celebrity couple had a possible interest in coming to Ireland,” said Siobhán, speaking to John Murray on RTÉ yesterday.

“I rang the agent involved, put in a proposal, and contacted various properties to see what was available. We did not know for definite until the Thursday or Friday, which was less than a week. We were not told who the couple were, but we guessed.”

According to some British tabloids, Kim hated every minute of it, but her husband has a bit of a grá for Ireland and returns here next week to play Marlay Park in Dublin.

It might surprise most natives that Ireland is a very popular destination for celebrities who value their privacy more than their everyday luxury.

Not that they would be up for camping in Ballybunion, though. Grand houses, private estates, and the odd stately home or castle are invariably on the menu.

“For instance, Lismore Castle would have been an obvious choice, but big properties like that are very popular for weddings and, anyway, we did not know how long they would be staying,” said Siobhán. “We had to make sure that there were properties available.”

By “properties”, she means a mix of luxury and grandeur, such as Straffan House, the home of Michael Smurfit, and Luttrellstown Castle, the 15th century estate on the outskirts of Dublin.

Promising what they describe as “distinctive travel and authentic cultural experiences worldwide”, Adams & Butler put the whole package together, from a luxury abode to a driver guide and even a chef, as celebs such as Kimye are not known for their prowess in the kitchen.

“We are like a fixer,” Siobhan said. “We are an inbound travel operator and we do not charge a fee and work on commission.”

Kimye were also looking at Scotland for that special cultural experience, so the fixers had to check out what was available there.

“We also had to get our top driver guide and a chef to do the cooking,” said Siobhán. “It would be normal for them to have a driver available 24-7.

“We wanted to design something amazing for them. They wanted a place with very little staff, as they wanted to be by themselves and snuggle up and watch DVDs, after all the stressful time of the wedding.”

The place chosen for all that snuggling in the lap of luxury was Castle Oliver in Limerick, which is run by Declan and Emma Cormack, a couple she describes as perfect hosts and easy to work with.

Some celebrities choose Ireland because it is mostly paparazzi-free and people respect their privacy. When Michael Jackson spent six months here, he talked so much about his time in Ireland that word got around in the small world of celebrity USA.

Sometimes, celebrities spring a surprise. “I got a phone call out of the blue from a woman who said she was Taylor Swift’s mother,” said Siobhán. “I almost responded that I was the Queen of Sheba but thank goodness I didn’t — as it was.”

Siobhán’s favourite clients were Hollywood A-lister Harrison Ford and his wife, Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart, who were whisked all over the country, from the Ring of Kerry to the Cliffs of Moher.

“The driver guide asked her at the end of the trip what her favourite experience was,” said Siobhán. “We thought it might be Kerry or Fermanagh, where her great-great grandmother came from.”

Not a bit of it. Her favourite was slurping a 99 ice-cream cone every day. Now that’s what you call a cultural experience.

KIMYE EFFECT

The Limerick destination where Kim Kardashian and Kanye West spent their honeymoon has seen interest rocket thanks to the Kimye effect.

Celebrity watchers from around the globe focused in on the rural idyll when it emerged the superstar couple had shunned exotic locations to spend the first night of their honeymoon in the rustic surroundings of the Castle Oliver estate in Ardpatrick, Co Limerick.

Fergal Somers, manager of Ballyhoura Fáilte, said interest has almost doubled since their May trip. “Phone calls here at the weekend alone would have increased by 80% and the number of group inquiries from sport and social clubs in the surrounding counties has also increased by about 80%,” said Mr Somers.

“The bigger hotels in the area have seen a larger increase in relation to bookings. Traffic on the website went up over 50% immediately. We had to get website support to make sure it could take the traffic.

“Twitter and Facebook also went absolutely bananas. The activity was huge and it is still there.”

— Lynne Kelleher

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