By | February 29, 2008

Click to listen to yesterday’s Drivetime show and an interview with Cathy O’Halloran about a conference at which Celia Larkin was giving a speech about branding. (FF to about 20mins on this link..they’ll put the specific segments up later in the day when you can go straight to the piece).

I am so impressed with Celia. The meeja showed up at her gig and she turned the tables on them, asking them questions from the podium and then left the hotel refusing to answer their questions. Alright, so she was given a “loan” to buy a house which she only paid back when the Tribunal found about it. We know not the source of the money nor the tax implications, but for sheer poise, she delivered a masterclass at that conference.

But tell me this, from where has the convention emerged that she is constantly being referred to as the Taoiseach’s “Life Partner”? Clearly she is not his life partner. She was his partner for….I dunno, 10 years? What’s wrong with “former partner”.

30 thoughts on “Celia

  1. europhile

    Celia’s masterclass in how to get ahead with just a brass neck and bluster

    ‘Now, Miriam,’ drips Bertie’s former life partner Celia Larkin, who has come in for ferocious stick from this column, ‘how do you specialise?’
    ‘Now, Miriam,’ drips Bertie’s former life partner Celia Larkin, who has come in for ferocious stick from this column, ‘how do you specialise?’
    Photograph: David Sleator

    The Taoiseach’s former life partner put tribunal woes behind her to torment a few journalists and give some insights into ‘Brand Bertie’ in Adare, Co Limerick

    TWO LARGE piles of complimentary newspapers rested on the reception desk yesterday at the Woodlands House Hotel in Adare. “Celia faces tax probe over €30,000 house ‘loan'” screamed the front-page splash.

    But Celia Larkin, “highly regarded image consultant and personal branding consultant”, was in no mood to talk about the personal branding implied in the headline or the effect it might have on her image.

    She refused to consult on the matter.

    Ms Larkin was the main speaker of the morning at a one-day Personal and Business Branding Workshop, hosted by the Limerick County Enterprise Board and aimed at women in business. Sixty women had signed up to hear her insights on the subject, lunch included.

    A handful of journalists paid their €20 registration fee too, although they came in search of a different set of insights from the Taoiseach’s former life partner.

    Namely, what are the facts behind Bertie Ahern’s astonishing Mahon tribunal revelation that Celia emerged from their relationship with sole ownership of a fine house in Dublin, financed by an undocumented loan of £30,000 from Fianna Fáil funds? And can she remember any more details of their joint financial dealings when he was minister for finance? Given that the combined might of the Mahon tribunal had severe difficulty making much headway in either department, it was highly unlikely that a handful of curious hacks were going to be treated to any further explanation. Which, predictably, turned out to be the case.

    Nonetheless, the exercise was not a fruitless one. The morning yielded a fascinating glimpse into why “Brand Bertie” has been such a runaway success. It was impossible to come away from the event without thinking that Ms Larkin played a very significant role in making “Brand Bertie” work.

    Celia drove her 08-registered Mercedes into the hotel car park at half past nine. As she walked towards the building, she received a call on her mobile phone, looked across and saw the small knot of waiting journalists. Whereupon she returned to the car and removed her coat, thus allowing the thrilled cameramen to photograph her in her exquisite beige fitted suit as she made her way to the front door.

    A radio reporter fired questions about the controversial Dublin house and possible tax implications, but Celia kept her head bowed, continued walking and said nothing. The reporter filed his story, his voice interspersed with the loud clickety-clack of her heels.

    Celia looked fabulous, every inch the successful businesswoman in her chic designer suit and elegant shoes.

    Her audience of businesswomen gave her a warm welcome. She was introduced as “a lady well known for her entrepreneurial skills” and the owner of three beauty salons. Celia said she intended to talk about “personal branding”. She spied the journalists in the back row and, cooler than a cucumber in an eskimo’s fridge, she smiled down in recognition.

    “A strong personal brand is of vital importance – it takes control of the process of how others perceive you,” she counselled. “It is much better to take control, as it places you in a strong leadership position and helps you increase your earning potential.”

    The businesswomen scribbled away; the reporters’ notebooks nearly went up in flames.

    Creating a brand requires a mix of elements, including excellence, visibility, lifestyle, leadership, personality, persistence and goodwill, she said. Find your niche and specialise in it.

    As she spoke, Celia walked up and down the main aisle of the hotel ballroom. She stopped near the back row and turned to the journalists.

    “Now, Miriam,” dripped Bertie’s former life partner, who has been coming in for a ferocious amount of stick from this column, “how do you specialise?”

    The obvious answer, were one as together as Celia, would be to reply “by writing about the Mahon tribunal, unexplained large sums of cash, Bertie Ahern and your part in the story”. But we muttered politely about writing colour for The Irish Times .

    Celia spun on heels and told the ladies that “Miriam specialises as a colour writer within a newspaper”. (Just like in the tribunal, Celia makes a big thing about first names.) Miriam, she pointed out, is an excellent example of branding.

    However, she went on to cruelly dash my hopes of getting a start on the Wall Street Journal by declaring that, were I to “write in a serious way about economics and business”, I would “dilute the brand”.

    These were real Bertie Ahern tactics. He is notorious for the way he seeks out journalists who have just written the most awful stuff about him and being mortifyingly nice to them.

    But then, in the words of Celia, “when somebody complains, it is how you deal with the complaint that matters”. Goodwill is important too. She also stressed that “good judgment” is vital – unfortunately, it went out the window with Bertie when he took cash from private sources for his personal use when in ministerial office.

    The famously closed Drumcondra Mafia came to mind when she advised her audience that it is not necessary to be famous, or have wide appeal, when developing a brand. “Just keep it within a small domain,” she said. “Keep it tight.” The similarities with “Brand Bertie” and the woman behind “Beauty at Blue Door” just kept coming.

    Crow over your achievements, be professional, increase your visibility, your popularity and your earning potential. Two people might do the same job, but everyone automatically assumes that the one they see more is doing a better job.

    And remember, ladies, “every penny counts”. (And in no time at all, you too could be lodging large amounts in the bank.) Be distinctive – it could be the way you look, or the way you speak. Like Madonna, remarked Celia, or Cilla Black.

    Or Bertie Ahern, we thought.

    Sometimes, though, it is hard to follow the rules. “Avoid confusion by keeping it simple,” declared Celia. She obviously didn’t pass that one on to You Know Who.

    It was quite the strangest morning, as an unfazed Ms Larkin questioned this reluctant journalist and RTÉ’s Cathy Halloran time and again about their jobs. She was clearly enjoying herself, although the same can’t be said for the one man in the audience, a young reporter from the Irish Independent doing his best to melt into the carpet at the top of the room.

    Her motivational spiel is very good: all buzzwords and the blindingly obvious, but delivered with confidence and panache. As the relieved Indo man pointed out afterwards, he could apply the same principles to his football team.

    When it was all over, the woman at the centre of a tribunal storm walked back to her car, tight-lipped, refusing to return the favour by answering the questions of those she had questioned earlier.

    Should Celia Larkin ever consider closing down Beauty at Blue Door, she has a great career ahead of herself in Bluster at Brass Neck.

    Excuse the language, but the lady had more balls than the entire Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

    How on earth is Bertie managing without her?
    © 2008 The Irish Times

  2. Roisin

    Miriam Lord missed her chance and can’t make up for it. If only Vincent Browne had been there…

  3. Darren Prior


    Are you so impressed with her because she is a woman?

    If a man turned the tables on the media he would be called a chancer or a cute hoor.

    To be fair to her though she does have more balls the the entire FF parliamentary party. That isn’t very hard though.

  4. John McDermott

    She was close enough, to the original and best brazen balls in politics for long enough, and Bertie´s balls are still going strong..!

  5. Mizlarko

    This is whole scenario is a good example of why the liberal agenda taken too far can be truly idiotic and very backwards.

    Society as a collective makes the rules and often sets the social or moral norms on various levels. In the case of relationships, over a long period of time such things as MARRIAGE taken on a very disticnt role in the society and we award it a particular status and place. Affording those who subscribe to the same broad values recongnition.

    Well as time moves on, and the shades of color that mark out the various attitudes to this institution are in some state of flux some things remain more or less constant. Like guidline and sign posts they help direct a society through a particular [flexible] set of values, attitudes and norms.

    Therefore it would previously be frowned upon to for example have a mistrtess publicly and so also for example in the case of berto and C the fact that she was awarded the status she was under the circumstances she was only serves to underline the stupidity and immature nature of irish society and culture.

    It felt the need to be perfectly cool with the leader of the country not only being seperated from his wife but also him having a “girl friend” “sex buddy” “mistress” etc etc. This is most unfortunate as she was actually placed in the role of “first lady” when this was clearly a degrading of any such notion.

    When people complained about this they would have been branded as intolerant or religious fools, right wingers etc etc.

    In point of fact what was truly disgracful was the fact that while it is noble and ethical for the society to adopt the view that his private personal relationships were his own business and not of interest or relevenance the problem is that when the same private relationships are put on show and intrude upon our public space, time or money [state trips abroad etc etc] we should be able to see clearly the farcical nature of the thinking associated with this whole scenario.

    Marriage is something we can all recognise and repspect as a marker or statement about ones private relationships, whereas no such status actually exsists for a mere “girlfriend” or mistress and this is only right and proper for otherwise what would be wrong with Berto having a different woman at his side every other day at official functions? Here it is is even worse as \berto never even divorced his wife and still has not done so. This would be a private matter where it not for the fact that at the same time berto had mizz larkin accompany him at various state events or happenings. This is and was wrong for the reasons I have outlined. And indeed now that he and she are no longer an item we can only laugh at the whole situation. miz larkin has little to be proud of either as she has been using her profile as the mistress of berto for all it is worth in her “business” efforts.

    All in all the whole thing sort of stinks as had berto either divorced his wife and remarried all would be in order. Or he could simply have keopt his mistress a private matter by being private with her! I personally felt no joy in having miz larkin represent my country in any way shape or form. She has never earned such a privilage and as she never was anything more than a sexual partner or lover , mistress of berto I see no status that could be conferred upon her that would legitimise her role in public life

    In other words if you want to keep your life none of my business then dont put yourself on public display through an role or connection with my government. I could care less if the leader of the country slept with a different woman every night. I just dont want that to intrude on him doing his job anybody stupid enough to pay to listen to miz larkin and take advise from her is as venal/slppery as she and berto are.

  6. V

    I’m framing that last comment. Look up ‘typical irish attitude’ in a dictionary…

    Ha Ha..

  7. Electron

    Mizlarko, you’re out of touch with the reality of modern Ireland – the Catholic Church blew it big time and with the nation’s moral compass in a spin, Bertie and Celia saw an opening and jumped at it. What the rest of the World thought of that arrangement doesn’t matter, we’re only a little island after all and nobody takes us seriously, not even ourselves.

  8. Zara

    Surely she should have been called his common law wife?

    Based on Miriam Lord’s report of her workshop, she’s full of sh*t. Represents everything that’s shallow, crass and vulgar about a certain bottle blonde segment of Irish society.

  9. David

    People refer to her as Bertie Ahern’s “life-partner” because that’s how Bertie referred to her during his first mahon tribunal appearance. Strange, because they had been broken up at that stage. In any case – it’s up to those involved to define their current relationship.

  10. Zara

    Ah yes, the world according to Bertie. He has a wife *and* a life partner. What on earth is he going to call the next one?

    Maybe he meant life as in the: “I got life for murder, but expect to be out in ten years…” sense.

    Just noticed Shane Hegarty of the Irish Times won best journalist’s blog at the blog awards. Would have picked GUBU myself.

  11. Gordon Davies

    One point to remember – Bartholomew Ahern does not have a private life. He is the ultimate political nerd (I was going to say anorak!). Everything he does is linked to his permanent fight for political ascendency.

    This explains why he is so puzzled by our perplexity about the lack of any clear boundary between his political and personal finances… he cannot se that there is a distinction between political and personal. This is why the phrase “a political donation for personal use” makes sense to him.

    It may also explain why the 2 women who have tried to share his life have given up on the attempt.


  12. The Crewser

    What an absolute guardian of morality you are Gordon. Perhaps you are not aware of it but marriages and partnerships are breaking up every day of the week, all around this country. As for political ascendency, well I think the electorate did that for him last May 24th. And as for political donations I will say this. If every politician in Leinster House had their affairs and finances scrutinised in the way Bertie Ahern had, not many of them would be clearly able to demonstrate the difference between such donations. They too would have to wait until the Mahon Tribunal report was published (as Enda Kenny is happy to let Anne Devitt do) to establish the true position.

  13. Zara

    Just read Gene Kerrigan in yesterday’s Sindo. Respect. :-)

  14. Rob Hickey


    I can’t help but think that Darren was right – do you only respect Celia because she is a woman?

  15. Sarah Post author

    on the woman thing – A straight no would be a cop out.

    The fact that she so coolly identified and turned the tables on the women journalists in the audience is gender neutral. Any one who did that has to be admired. But I think there was something particularly feminine about how she did it. When we see politicians defend themselves (and I know she’s not a politician but she is political) they do so with aggression or gravitas or hysterical defensiveness. Cowen is a bully, Ahern is shifty, Martin/Ahern are calm but sly, the opposition adopt outrage. What she did was calm, full of style and poise. Perhaps only a woman could have done it. And frankly when you compare her manner to Harney or O’Rourke or Hanafin, I think it was outstanding.
    Remember, I’m only talking tactics here – not the substantive issue of her little revenue problem.

  16. Electron

    Celia has no public responsibility – she can, therefore, act the maggot. She’s in the category of being famous for being famous as there’s nothing of substance there. Fair dues to her,if she can extract money from idiots and get lots of free publicity from the press – she’ll have ten salons before you know it.

  17. Roisin

    You’d wonder what the Enterprise Board was up to inviting her to give an address aimed at business women. I guess they were tired of Limerick’s other most media worthy woman, the other Celia, Celia Holman Lee. Why would women even go to hear Celia Larkin? Still when you think that it’s a full house already for Bishop Comiskey’s upcoming lectures it’s obvious people will go to anything.

  18. Electron

    Roisin, The enterprise boards are controlled by FF mafia – that’s why they invited her. Unless you’re credentials are correct (supporter of FF) don’t waist time with these boards – different rules apply for outsiders.

  19. The Crewser

    I can understand why FG apologists have to denigrate Bertie, Brian , Michaeal and Dermot. There’s nothing like a good drubbing at the Polls to bring out the worst in your opponents.

  20. Darren Mac an Phríora

    Eh FG are up four points since the GE.

  21. The Crewser

    Which of the last three GE’s are you referring to Darren.

  22. Anthony Sheridan

    It is so depressing to read what you have to say about Celia Larkin. This person had a close relationship with a dodgy politician for years. Recent revelations indicate that she was, to some degree at least, involved in his murky activities. The activities of low quality people like Ahern creates a country where people like Susie Long lose their lives. Nothing will change until Irish citizens learn to make that connection, until they learn how to be angry and put these people in jail.

  23. Zara

    Too true Anthony, Gene Kerrigan suggested that it’s time for the gardai to be called in and I agree.

  24. The Crewser

    Good old Anthony Sheridan graces the stage with his presence. Can this be the same Anthony Sheridan who will not allow any comments which are in any way critical of his partisan and vitriolic anti FF pieces which appear every other day on Public Inquiry. I would not then expect you to understand or have any respect for one of our greatest Prime Ministers ever.
    In the years to come history will be kind to Bertie Ahern even if you and your ilk will not be.

  25. Andrew Lawlor

    Anthony, as long as the money keeps rolling in and we can afford our two (or three) holidays a year and a new car every other year, we will never make that connection.
    There is a connection between low standards in high places and what happens at the grass roots of society.
    Try this.
    (With apologies to Sarah for being over- long winded. feel free to edit away!!)

    A Saturday evening in February.

    Drimnagh, Dublin 12.

    At about 6.30pm two men are returning home from a day’s work. They stop at the local take-away, get some food and then pop into the off-licence to purchase a few beers to enjoy with their burgers and chips. Just two ordinary working guys. They could be Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian or even Irish. These guys happened to be Polish. Twenty nine year old Pawel Kalite and his friend Marius Szwajkos, just 27, were two decent, hard working young men. For Pawel and Marius this was a pretty ordinary Saturday evening in their new life here in Ireland. Pretty ordinary, that is, until they bumped into the vicious, savage thugs who killed them.

    Maybe they did physically bump into them. Maybe they had words with their killers, having refused to give them the beers they had just bought with their hard earned Euros. We don’t yet know exactly what happened last Saturday evening. We may never know, but what we do know is that two innocent men were savagely beaten and killed in broad daylight outside a busy shopping parade in Dublin 12.

    Bertie Ahern, coincidentally, was in Poland this week. He told Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, that Irish people were shocked and saddened by the killings. He also said that, thankfully, this was an isolated incident.


    I suppose if he means that it doesn’t often happen that two Polish friends are murdered on Benbulben Road on an otherwise unremarkable Saturday evening in February, well yes, it is an isolated incident.

    We know, though, that he doesn’t mean that. He is spinning. Take a piece of spin (this particular piece of spin tells us that there is not a problem with violent crime among young men) and wrap it carefully in an expression of sympathy on the death of two innocent young men and it slides down like Ben & Jerry’s.

    Bertie Ahern, evidently, doesn’t read the newspapers. He doesn’t listen to the radio or watch the TV news. There is no problem with violent crime against the person among young, alcohol and/or drug fuelled men.

    Get it?

    We know different, however.

    What we don’t know is why.

    The reasons why are many and complex. Irish society has undergone a radical change in the last ten years. Perenting has become much less hands on as couples work two jobs to pay for our new decadent lifestyles. We have seen a certain Americanisation of youth culture, taking them closer to Boston than Berlin. As the wealth of the nation has increased hugely those left behind feel a great sense of injustice and disconnection.

    But let me add another possible cause – Bertie.

    Not just Bertie on his own, mind you. We can, and do, blame Bertie for many things, but fingering him alone for the breakdown in the fabric of society might be just a bit too much. So let’s throw in Biffo Cowen with him, and Micháel Martin and Martin ‘Anti-Midas’ Cullen and Dermot Ahearne and the Green Party and Eoghan ‘What’s the fucking point of power if it’s not used’ Harris, and don’t forget the mighty midget himself, Willie O’Dea. God almighty, the list is endless, so I’ll end it there. (Charlie, Ray, Liam, George, Baileys, Lowry etc, ad nauseum….)

    When I was a kid the sight of authority when I was up to no good put the fear of God into me. Gardai, teachers, football coaches and parents. Basically all grown ups. Even older brothers. These were all authority figures in my young life. For society as a whole politicians are authority figures. They make the rules that the rest of us have to live by. They occupy positions of extreme privilege. The higher they soar the more extraordinary the privilege. When did you last glance to one side in the M50 chaos and see the Minister for Transport fuming in a murderous rage behind the wheel of the family Toyota. Never. These people don’t do traffic jams. I can handle that. Ministers and Taoisigh are very important people. If they get whisked around in the rear of a Merc I’ll still sleep at night. If they get paid ridiculous amounts of money I’m fine with that, too.

    However, if they preach about probity and honesty, if they make pious, sanctimonious speeches condemning the wrongdoings of their predecessors and are then revealed to have their porcine snouts in the same filthy trough, then I have a problem. Over the last ten years or so we have seen a litany of politicians, from lowly county councillors to Taoisigh revealed as being corrupt. We saw the great and the good queueing up to defend Charles Haughey as the layers of veneer were being slowly stripped from his carefully constructed public servant persona. Only when it became blindingly obvious, only when the allegations acquired the status of fact, did his fellow Fianna Fail travellers desert Haughey and cluck their tongues and stroke their beards and determine that it must never happen again. They watched Ray Burke draw his line in the sand and howled about a good man being hounded out of office, only to scurry for cover when Burke was jailed for corruption. Now they stand ‘four square’ behind Bertie, as we heard this week. The Mahon tribunal is only a witch hunt. The tribunal, its counsel, Fine Gael, Labour and the Irish Times are all involved in an orchestrated campaign to do down the greatest Taoiseagh this great little nation has ever seen.

    Bertie’s corruption will be proven, eventually. Fianna Fail will distance themselves from him and then will rewrite history and re-proclaim him a great patriot.

    Our young generations will look on as all of this happens, as they watched the revelations about Burke and Lawlor and Haughey and Bailey and Lowry. As they watched the unveiling of the unpunished, massive dirt tax fraud at AIB. As they watched the extraordinary behaviour of senior Gardai in Donegal. They will not feel the acid drip of cynicism slowly wearing away their respect for authority. If you are 16 years old and confused and vulnerable you look to authority to give you guidance. If your parents don’t provide it you look further afield.


    The cops are all bent.

    The politicians are all on the make.

    The church is full of pervs.

    And amid all of this no one is being punished for any wrongdoing. The only ones in prison are the poor and the addicted.

    So when an innocent young Polish man bumps into your friend, you run home, get a screwdriver and drive it into his skull.

  26. Electron

    Andrew, you’re on the button there, but what can be done at this late stage. The bunch of chancers that you mentioned homed in on the simple emotions of the people and used them as a means to an end. The awful thing is that the crewser’s of this country are in denial and continue to defend their actions. It’s time for another 1916 to clear the decks.

  27. The Crewser

    Electron, with a bit of luck such a revolution would clear away all the begrudery which is currently about. But I expect that the Tom Gilmartin and Eamon Dunphy supporters who mostly populate this site would be difficult to dislodge from their entrenched positions. These Tribunal ‘Star’ witnesses were supposed to prove that Bertie was corrupt and had taken money from Owen O’Callaghan but both failed miserably in their mission.

  28. Tom N


    WIll this be one of your 30% of cases where justice hasn’t been done?

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