Anne Doyle, a priest and Louis Walsh — the opening of Linda Martin’s dog shelter had it all — apart from a multi-award winning actor.
As the event began, heads turned at distant claps for an arriving guest that turned out to be Louis Walsh. As much as he tries, he just doesn't have the X-factor of Ian McKellen, who was also keenly awaited.
Therefore, there was audible disappointment from the crowd when news emerged the 83-year-old actor, who was due to officially open the facility in Meakstown, Dublin, could not attend.
“I was with him last night at the Bord Gáis, the poor man is exhausted,” said Linda Martin, before adding: “but in the meantime please put your hands together for Louis Walsh.”
Once under way, Ms Martin was keeping the event on a tight leash.
“He’s under orders for two minutes, he’s not saying Mass, it’s only two minutes,” she said before Canon Damien O’Reilly blessed the shelter.
After a prayer, two sleepy puppies also received a blessing to the crowd's oohs and ahs.
Several animal charity representatives were there, gleeful that another shelter might help to relieve the load of unwanted Irish dogs.
Mr Walsh said for as long as he has known Ms Martin, all she wanted was to open an animal shelter.
“She wanted to win the Eurovision as well,” he said before a red ribbon appeared before him out of thin air.
“What happens? Is it just me?” he asked, unprepared for having to take up the main role following Mr McKellen’s last-minute absence.
Mr Walsh then asked Anne Doyle to come up and “read the news” to which she replied she thought Mr Walsh wanted her to “chew her way through” the ribbon due to the absence of scissors.
“To actually take on a project like this on this scale shows the sort of courage that you would only expect from a woman who didn’t really think it was good enough to be second in the Eurovision,” she said.
Ms Doyle said the shelter was “very, very necessary” given the current pressure on animal shelters across the country, before being heckled to wrap up, to which she replied: “I was going to go for about 15 minutes but now that you so kindly applauded me, I’ll go for 20.”
Ms Martin’s Dublin Dog Hub will soon begin to employ staff, with the aim of liaising with local authorities and other shelters.
She told thethe shelter currently has a capacity for 20 large dogs and 30 small dogs and has the foundations laid for another block, with plans to scale up the size of the shelter.
She said Ireland is “getting there” when it comes to attitudes towards dog ownership but said puppy farms must be controlled and if she had her way, they would be banned.
“If you take a dog in, you have to look after it, it’s not just for amusement for a couple of weeks,” she said.