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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-06-29 05:55:49

Epoch Irish Tatler

Epoch Irish Tatler



It might be hard to imagine that
the glossy magazine that you hold are still at the core of the Irish Tatler values
in your hands is celebrating 125 – all while tapping into what is important
years in print. However, the rich to the modern Irish woman.
heritage of Irish Tatler reaches
But just as Irish women and their place
in society has transformed over the last

back to its origins as The Lady of 125 years, Irish Tatler too has continued to

the House in 1890, a time when Ireland move with the times. Home life is no longer

was on the cusp of great change socially simply about maintaining a household,

and politically. Editor and managing but about achieving a work-life balance.

director Henry Crawford Fashion and beauty trends

Hartnell announced in his today are less about securing a

first publication that the good match in matrimony and

journal was meant to “elevate more about self-expression. It

social life, the strengthening has always been about helping

of home ties, the beautifying women to find and better their

of the family surroundings, place in the world, whatever

and the revival of Ireland’s that might be.

national tradition and interest Over the following pages

in her historical records.” we track the great epochs of

Interestingly, a glance back Irish Tatler, from its grand

at the archives shows that Irish Tatler and Sketch, 1941 beginning in 1890, before

Irish women and the Irish passing the narrative over

Tatler of today still share to three seminal Irish Tatler

much in common with their editors, Noelle Campbell

predecessors. Magazines have always Sharp (1979-1988), Morag Prunty (1992-

occupied a unique place in a woman’s 2000) and Elaine Prendeville (2006-2010).

life, and still retain the power to educate, Each of these very different women share

influence and inspire, whether that is the memories of their time at the helm

through discussing women’s education in of Ireland’s most influential women’s

1910 or equality in the workplace in 2015. magazine, revealing how they tapped

Curating a beautiful life at work and at into the zeitgeist of their era to influence

home, championing Irish design, business the course of Irish Tatler and, in turn the

and achievement as well as women’s issues minds of the women who read it.


Step back in time for a nostalgic look at the origins of Irish Tatler by Jessica O’ Sullivan.hen Irish Tatler began as The Lady of the

House in 1890, its editor Henry Crawford
Hartnell, a businessman and well-
established historical writer, conceived a

W magazine which he hoped would celebrate
This progressive leaning towards producing articles about
female independence continued into the early 1900s and the
years of the First World War. “In 1916, The Lady of the House
featured an article entitled Should a man fill a woman’s life? – in
other words should love from a man be the centre of a woman’s

Irish society, Irish design and help women life?” says Clear. “The thrust of the article was no, absolutely not.

to create an attractive and harmonious home life. Soon, the Love should not fill a woman’s life, as women should have other

title became known for its fine illustrations and good quality outside interests that are just as fulfilling.” Another article in 1915

photographs with much of the content concentrated on beauty speculated about what the post-war woman would be like. “There

and household matters – one of the highlights, of course, being was a quote in this piece which read, ‘The professional typist will

the annual Baby Competition. However, even then The Lady of take the place of the amateur pianist,’ which meant that women

the House was the thinking woman’s magazine, also publishing will be moving into the professional arena, and therefore meaning

political and social material such as articles on the Dublin slums. their success will be no longer measured by accomplishments, but

“In the late 19th century there was a lot of emphasis on fashion and by achievements,” says Clear. “There was a very strong sense of

beauty, but that wasn’t just aimed at the upper classes,” explains progress and of women moving out of the home, into the public

Caitriona Clear, a senior lecturer in history at NUI Galway and sphere.”

author of Women’s Voices in Ireland: Women’s Magazines in the Women’s magazines at that time were not only a great repository

1950s and 60s (Bloomsbury Academic) which is to be published of information about women but also for women, a fact that

in early 2016. “Much like today, magazines are aspirational. For Clear feels many people do not realise. “Towards the end of the

instance, the reader might be the dressmaker making clothes for a First World War, there was a huge amount of information in the

special occasion for a farmer’s wife. She’d pour over these kinds of magazine that you wouldn’t find anywhere else on the world

magazines to get ideas and see what ‘the quality’ were wearing.” around them. For example, there was an article about a field

But as well as showcasing upper middle class women and the hospital that was set up in Dublin Castle for the war wounded

fashionable trends they favoured from London and Paris, The and the health problems that were arising as a result. Magazines,

Lady of the House also celebrated women of achievement, female of course, are about escapism to an extent, but they also contain

activists and covered the working woman of the time through fantastic nuggets of historical information.”

articles such as The Life of the Woman Farmer. In 1895, The In 1924, the magazine changed its title to The Irish Tatler and

Lady of the House ran a piece entitled The Lady Footballers Sketch and with a new title came a new tone of voice. The layout

which heralded the 20th-century girl as the “Coming Woman”, a and the idea behind the paper was altered in keeping with the social

lady who was, “equipped as never were her sisters for the frantic and political changes of the time – a reflection of the great shift

struggle of increasing competition” and she was “as loyal, frank which took place in Ireland since the signing of the Anglo-Irish

and unaffected as a man; for she has annexed men’s good points treaty in 1921. A new Irish Government, meant a new order and

without losing a feather of her womanly charm.” This feature anyone who was not happy, took up residence across the Channel.

ran with a photograph of a 16-strong team of lady footballers, This of course meant that many of the ‘select clientele’ – the Anglo-

brought together by Lady Florence Dixie who formed the British Irish, who would previously have supported the publication – were

Ladies’ Football Club and kitted themselves out in men’s garments, no longer resident. With this conscious change in direction, the

“adopted for special purposes” – trousers, socks and football magazine became “a social, sporting and society paper, catering for

boots, and a steely look of determination. all sections of the public” and not just ‘Society’ with an upper case


‘S’, a phrase which by then was to say goodbye to any ‘style’ and
felt by some Irish people as having they wanted to enjoy it while they
snobbish connotations. could. They were actually rejecting
marriage, or at least postponing it
The idea of being ‘Respectable’ until they were ready to give up
with a capital R was associated the good times that working and
with the phrase ‘shoneenism’, being independent allowed them to
another word for Anglo snobbery, enjoy.”
described in an article in The Irish
Tatler and Sketch in the 1950s as When the Second World War
“that most detestable of all social broke out, rationing and a reduction
sins, indicative of a moneyed in manufacturing of luxury goods
vulgarian who would sell his soul in other countries meant that
in order to rub shoulders with his Ireland was thrown back on its own
betters.” resources. However, this presented
an opportunity for Irish Tatler
Until independence, Ireland to showcase a fascinating array
was a country divided into two of articles featuring local talent.
classes – those who were invited “Other magazines began to use a
to State functions at the Castle and lot of syndicated material from the
garden parties and the Viceregal UK and the US, particularly when
Lodge, and those that were not it came to the world of film, which
– Loyalists and Nationalists. But was growing in popularity,” says
as the 20s moved on, those lines Clear. “However, Irish Tatler had
of demarcation quickly faded as more intellectual, cultural leanings.
education and opportunity became There was a great effort to promote
available to all and Irish people Irish art and design, which set it
were united under their citizenship apart from other magazines on sale
of the Republic.

Opposite page: Far “Many advertisements in magazines
left, a cover and at the time were aimed at the single
fashion feature girl wanting to find a husband”
from 1891, hot hats
from 1915
This page: Left, a
cover from 1930.
Above, an early

An advertisement This inter-war period saw at the time.”
from 1947 many women going out to work As we moved into the 50s, the
and becoming notably more
independent and affluent. “When domestication of women once
women had disposable income again was seen as the genteel thing
in any class, that’s when beauty to embrace. “While the beauty
and fashion become far more and fashion pages became, once
important and you can see that again, decidedly more feminine,
coming to the fore in the 20s,” some of the content became more
explains Clear. “The phrase ‘the unisex. There were articles about
single girl’, or ‘the business girl’ rugby, horse racing and it moved
came into usage in the 1920s. The away slightly from the intimate
business girl who was the young tone, which other magazines
woman working in an office, was adopted. Perhaps this was to entice
much deplored by the moralists husbands to buy and read the
at the time, as in their minds she title,” says Clear. “Right up to the
was living a lonely, unfulfilled 1960s the social pages followed
existence. Many advertisements in those who would have been seen as
magazines were aimed at the single part of the moneyed set, covering
girl, wanting to find a husband.” things like the Guinness wedding
Looking at an ad like that now – it began to be modelled more on
might make you laugh, but at the British Tatler.”
time there was a practicality to it
too. “Women were seen to improve However, as Ireland moved
their social and economic status by towards the swinging 60s and the
marrying. The reality was in fact, second wave of feminism, it was
that these women loved having safe to say that neither Irish Tatler
money in their pockets. Unless they nor its readers could resist the
married rich men, they knew that cultural revolution. Caught in the
when they wed they would have riptide of this change, both were
forced to reevaluate what it meant
to be a modern Irish woman.


EThIeGnHauTghItEy S

Noelle Campbell-Sharp was editor and owner of Irish Tatler from 1979 to 1988 and
was known for her headline-grabbing antics, her friendship with Terry Keane and
her penchant for double-parking her sports car outside The Shelbourne. Here she
shares some of her memories of that time.

Lby Noelle Campbell-Sharp In conversation with Jessica O’Sullivan When it came to relaunching the magazine in 1979 we had to
iberation. That’s what magazines meant to Irish remember that we still lived in a predominantly Catholic country.
women. In a way they still do. It was the liberation I like to think we employed the nudge principle – the idea that
to explore their own personalities, their appearance, nudging people to a good result is better than beating them with
and their abilities. Remember, in those days women a stick. And sometimes a nudge is more powerful than the stick
got their information at the parish pump, but

magazines gave them access to information that because people are more likely to listen. A good thought-provoking

was applicable to them, whether that was about domestic things magazine feature should open up conversation among women, not

like cookery, health or even more risqué topics. Magazines meant pontificate to its audience. We were still pushing the boundaries,

education, inspiration and aspiration. whether we covered a health issue or a sex issue, but maybe not as

In the 70s, Irish Tatler’s readership had dwindled. It was aimed violently as some people in society were. I feel we achieved a lot

at the Anglo Irish, back when it was The Irish Tatler and Sketch. because of it. I started a column called Pep Talk, which was meant

They were the people who sustained it, but this set had diminished to encourage women to not be so dependent on men. I remember

in both wealth and numbers. However, there were no Irish my daughter’s school teacher gave me a note of protest from her

women’s magazines as such – they were mostly niche titles – and mother, because she felt I was encouraging the women of Ireland

I knew a title like that with so much heritage could go on forever. to want to be the principal of a school, rather than being satisfied

I decided to appeal to the guy who owned it to change it. When with being a school teacher. I also used to write a column called

I took over Irish Tatler, I wasn’t aiming it at “We wanted to hook Body Talk, which was one of the first health
the Cosmo market, I was aiming it at a more a smarter type of columns in an Irish women’s magazine. We
intelligent type of woman – someone a little woman – someone were still trying to move women forward, just
more upmarket. who wanted to know not as fast as some people, particularly those in
what was going on in the feminist movement, probably wanted us to.
The first thing we did was change the name

from Irish Tatler to IT magazine. Irish women The funny thing was that I was in trouble
then began to have more money and became with the feminists at the time. They didn’t like
almost like the Anglo Irish. They lived in the idea of a glossy magazine at all. I was invited

bigger houses, they wanted better cars, spent a the world” to go on The Late Late Show, with a number
lot more money in shops like Brown Thomas. of women from the Women’s Liberationists and

But we wanted to hook a smarter type of when Gay Byrne asked me what I thought of the

woman – someone who was maybe thinking of moving to London movement, I said, “Oh you mean, the L, L and L – loud, left and

or Paris, and wanted to know what was going on in the world. This lesbian?” I think it was first time anyone had even used the word

was the beginning of women wanting it all and it hasn’t stopped lesbian on the television. Nell McCafferty was on the panel, and

since. I felt that magazines at the time were not relevant to these they could barely hold her back. Of course, I was just trying to be

women who were at a crossroads in their lives. They were career- controversial. Two weeks later I went on RTÉ to debate the issue

focused and trying to become independent without losing the love head to head with Nell, and I was dressed in a soldier suit, my hair

of their family. Many of them still wanted to look great for their in a Grace Jones crew cut and she was slouched in a chair with

men. I had lots of ideas and I knew we needed articles that would her jeans zipped down. She proceeded to machine-gun me verbally,

appeal to a modern young woman. but since we have become good friends and I have great respect


“I’ll admit I was also Irish Tatler fashion
a brat. I used to be features from the
terribly public. You 70s to the 80s
put yourself out there,
simply to get more
attention for your

for her. A lot of the time when I said things
like that I was trying to be the balance. In this
case, I felt that this kind of strong feminism
was damning the women who didn’t agree
with them. The women who were at home, for
instance, and wanted to stay at home rather
than be out working. I would defend the right
of any woman who wanted to stay at home
and raise her children as equally as I would a
woman who wanted to go out and work.

I’ll admit I was also a brat. I used to be
terribly public; I have become very private since
I left Dublin. In those days I was constantly on
television. I even presented a Saturday night
show live, totally drunk for one and a half
hours, and as you can imagine there were so
many comments in the newspapers. But a lot
of that was, in a way, for the sake of my staff in
Irish Tatler. You put yourself out there, simply
to get more attention for your magazine, to
get more readers, so that you can pay the
staff wages. At one point we were the biggest
magazine publishing company and employed
over 150 people indirectly and directly.

We wanted to create something that was
every bit as good as what the international
magazines were doing. I started my career as
a freelance journalist. I had married a fashion
photographer from England, Neil Campbell-
Sharp and I would style his shots and write
the accompanying caption piece and send it to


Noelle Campbell-Sharp get down as soon as possible. We were Features from
at the IFTAs, 2014 rescued in the end thankfully, but we still the 80s
had to go and finish our shoot the next
“When Terry and myself day, even though none of us could stand 1980
were abroad I was the up straight.
naughty one. She was
only naughty at home” We did have some really fantastic
times. I was constantly going to lunches,
various publications, so I adored fashion. receptions and dinners. I had a passion
I remember the fashion shoot for our very for cars and I would double-park
first issue vividly. We went to St Moritz, my Bentley Flying Spur outside The
Switzerland with the designer Pat Howard. Shelbourne nearly every evening. The
He was famous for his sequined jackets, next day it would be in the newspaper,
which were quite icy looking, so we wanted “She’s done it again – she’s double-
to shoot them on the ski slopes. The lead parked the car.” It was the worst spot in
model at the time was Jean O’Reilly. She the whole of Dublin to double-park and
was what they referred to as a professional it actually got so bad that the head of
model. In other words, she would do the traffic wardens came around on his
anything to make sure she was the right scooter one day and offered to make a
product for the camera – like taking her deal with me; If I parked on single yellow
back teeth out to create higher cheek lines they would leave me alone.
bones, or having a procedure done on her
kneecaps to improve the appearance of her Good times weren’t just had at home
legs. We weren’t living in the digital age, so though. I had a great time all over the
there was no Photoshop at the time. world thanks to Irish Tatler. Terry Keane
became a very good friend of mine, after
We went up a mountain by cable car on previously being an atrocious enemy.
a Sunday carrying all the clothes and the People compared our rivalry to Chanel
equipment. However, we went off the trail and Schiaparelli. She was a little more
a little bit and by the time we got back it senior than me. I wore all sorts of mad
was getting very dark and the cable station gear and we’d go to fashion shows
had closed. Of course, there were no mobile and she’d glare at me. I was always
phones at that time. Dark clouds began to the last one in and the first one out. I
roll in and the wind was picking up, so we remember pulling out of the car park of
found a wooden shack with some work the Gresham Hotel in my British green
boots inside and we put those on. Imagine Morgan. Terry and her crew were still
Jean in her sequined jacket and me in a inside quaffing Champagne and a big
tailored suit, and the rest of team having to Government car pulled up in my way. I
pick our way down the side of the mountain. had a klaxon horn in the car and put my
Further along we met a climber who told hand on it. When I made to go around
us there was an avalanche the night before I saw Charles Haughey was inside, and
that had killed a few people and we should he gracefully told the driver to move out
of the way. I heard that when he went
inside, he asked who the blonde in the
green car was which really got Terry
mad. Then one day, at an event I mistook
her for another journalist and put my
arms around her from behind. Everyone
in the room, including her, got a shock
because they knew we were absolute
mortal enemies. I looked at her and said,
“Apologies, that was a mistake.” But
I’m a great believer in serendipity, so I
said, “No, actually I don’t think it was a
mistake,” and I hugged her again. That
was the start of our friendship.

Terry came all over the world with me
and we had such a great time.I was always
being mistaken for Vivienne Westwood,
particularly by photographers, which
was sometimes very useful. Even if you
have accreditation to be at a show, when
you’re from an Irish magazine you had
to stand at the back of the crowd. But
I always wanted to be in the front row,
so myself and Terry had to blag our
way in. I remember Malcolm McLaren,
Vivienne’s then partner, dressed me as


Fashion in the 80s Fashion Week, we had a suite at Hotel Meurice next door to
Valentino and his boyfriend. We came back from a dinner,
“Anna Wintour began screaming, ‘That’s after too much to drink, and spotted his breakfast card on
my seat, I have to sit alongside Bailey. Get his door. We got a pen and ticked everything on the list and
out of my seat,’ across the catwalk at me” the next morning we heard screams coming from the room as
chaps with white gloves and roller tables turned up to deliver
he was just beginning to experiment with that look. We both went all the food. Terry kept saying, “If Charlie hears about this,
to the Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris with a letter I had forged we’re going to be deported.”
from McLaren and Westwood asking the organisers to let me in as
I was a good friend of theirs. Of course I looked like her and was The next day her daughter Madeleine joined us for lunch
wearing his clothes, so in I went with all the big global editors. Of and got very excited when she spotted an artist she liked.
course, as time went on the more I sat in the front row, the more I She was eager to get an autograph but neither she nor Terry
was recognised as a front row person and got my own invites. wanted to approach him. So I took her autograph book and
marched over to this white-haired guy who was surrounded
Once I arrived early to a John Bates show and I saw a guy sitting by security. He obviously liked the look of me because
on his own in the front row wearing a leather jacket. Next thing he motioned for his guards to let me through. I looked at
I know, he removes the card on the seat next to him and beckons him and said, “You’re an artist?” and he said, “Yes,” and
me over to sit down. When I asked him what he did, he explained I said, “Well prove it. Here, draw something,” and I thrust
that he was a fashion photographer. Of course I was surprised that the autograph book at him. He looked at me in amazement
he was there without any equipment, and told him that he was and next thing he creates this gorgeous drawing with lots
missing a great opportunity – John Bates was a great designer and of hearts and signs it, Andy Warhol. Madeline has it still to
there would be some wonderful models to shoot. I told him I was a this day.
fashion writer and that my husband was an excellent photographer,
who many people referred to as the David Bailey of Ireland. He At the time there was a lot happening in the economy.
smiled and said, “That’s funny because I’m the David Bailey of When we joined the European common market, we were all
England.” It was so embarrassing, but at that very moment the encouraged to expand our horizons into Europe to see if we
crowds came in, including Anna Wintour who began screaming, could export. With Irish Tatler we were thinking of all the
“That’s my seat, I have to sit alongside Bailey. Get out of my seat,” Irish in Britain so we met with Robert Maxwell, owner of
across the catwalk at me. But obviously Bailey didn’t want to sit the Mirror Group, with a view to him making an investment.
with her, because he was telling me to stay put. I was so flustered He was famous for bugging his offices, and after I had met
that I dropped everything I was carrying on the floor. with his people for two hours, he came in at the end with
bottles of Champagne saying that we had a deal.
Funnily enough, when Terry and myself were abroad I was
always the naughty one. She was only naughty at home in Ireland, I sold 51 per cent of my shareholding in the magazine
but I’m sure that’s because she felt more secure there because of to him, not a good decision in hindsight. In 1991, Robert
her relationship. However, she was always worried about what Maxwell was found floating in the ocean after falling off
naughtiness I’d get up to when we were away. Once, during Paris his yacht and his organisation collapsed due to the debts he
had accrued. I lost a lot of money, but I think it affected me
differently to how it might have affected a man. Success and
money tend to be a barometer for men and losing it can be
emasculating, but for a woman it can inspire them to do
something totally different. I moved away from magazines
and created Cill Rialaig Arts Centre – a place of quiet
contemplation in a world that is gorged on technology. To
date the retreat has housed almost 3,500 world-renowned
artists. When I first saw the place where Cill Rialaig stands,
plans were being made to bulldoze the old pre-famine village
and the road which ran through it in order to replace it with
a road wide enough to take tour buses around the Bolus
Head. This magical place was to be wiped off the face of the
earth and I just knew it needed rescuing. The thing is, that in
the end it was the village that rescued me.

Covers from 1987


Morag Prunty was editor of Irish Tatler from 1992 to 1999. Now a successful writer
of women’s fiction writing under the name Kate Kerrigan, Prunty has just published
her seventh novel The Dress. Here, she shares her memories of a time when Ireland
was on the cusp of the Celtic Tiger years, teetering on the verge of becoming the
cosmopolitan melting pot of culture that it is today.
UK’s top publishing houses, and while part of
I t was November 1991 and Robert me longed for an excuse to return to my parents’
Maxwell had just fallen off his yacht. His native country, where I had spent all of my summer
empire was crashing. His publications holidays as a child, and continued to spend every
were all up for sale. I read the news in holiday as a harried magazine executive, I was
my smart new office just off London’s
Carnaby Street. As editor of the iconic not prepared to leave my London career behind.

Just 17 magazine, I was managing a weekly staff However, when Maxwell died, an idea came to

of nearly 30 people – which was considered the front of my mind that he owned Irish Tatler

skeleton at that pre-online time when magazines magazine. On a whim, I called the publisher at

were everything. I was flying high at the heart Smurfit’s and told him that if he bought the title

of the London media scene. Having become the I would come over and edit it. I could not quite

youngest editor of a national magazine at the age believe it when that was exactly how it played out.

of 21, by my mid-20s I had launched bestselling Moving to Ireland in my mid-20s was an eye-
More! magazine, and was now breathing life back Morag’s editor’s picture opener. I had never been to Dublin before. My
into Just 17. I had, in a few short years, carved “I took Vivienne
family is from Longford and Mayo, and although

out a reputation as a young-gun editor who could Westwood to a seedy I had spent a lot of time in Ireland growing up,
turn a magazine’s fortunes around. Though I nightclub on Leeson my understanding of it was entirely rural. Taking
was the same age, or not much older, than my up a position as editor of what was, essentially, a
readers I was winning awards, driving a company Street where she society magazine peppered with advertising, I was
sports car, earning great money and was, in many shook her barely- immediately thrown into the heart of the Dublin

ways, the envy of my peers. I ran on instinct and covered booty all over social scene. From those early months preparing
adrenaline and I knew that I was lucky to be in the dance floor” for the relaunch of Irish Tatler I can remember
the position I was. two presiding things. The first was delight at the

But then one day I realised that my luck did not beautiful city in which I found myself living in the

stretch to the one place that was important to me. I wasn’t happy. I heart of. At that time I could afford to rent a flat in Dublin 2,

was overstretched in every area. I was in a high level management in Herbert Place, in a beautiful Georgian building, architecturally-

position, dealing with corporate issues like budgets and markets designed with high ceilings, for a peppercorn rent. The second

and unions and the complexities of managing people – most of thing was the sense of isolation I felt as an English incumbent.

whom were years older than I was, with much more life experience. Several people bluntly told me I should not be there, others quietly

I coped well and seemed to be thriving, only I knew that I’d bitten simmered with resentment. While I did make some very good friends

off more than I could chew, simply by how much it was taking out in those early days, I was acutely aware that my second-generation

of me. Earlier that year I had been approached by a publisher at Irishness did not quite account for as much as I had hoped. Coming

Smurfit Publications about taking an editing job in Dublin. I had over from the UK and taking up the position as editor of an Irish

come over to Dublin to talk to him about the position. While I women’s magazine made me unpopular in some quarters, and that

loved the city and the idea of moving to Ireland, I decided against was before I even opened my mouth as an arrogant young media

it. There was no way they could match the money of one of the professional who knew everything about everything!


1997 Morag Prunty today

Coming from London, I found Dublin to Far left: A sex
be much more like a large town, and still feature from 1991
quite parochial with a very homogeneous Left: a beauty page
society. I remember travelling on the Dart from 1994
one day and finding myself staring at a black
woman. It was a strange, uncomfortable
feeling, until I realised that she was the first
person of colour that I had seen in the few
months since I had moved to Ireland. I had
come from the hysterical capitalist society
of Thatcher’s Britain, where I’d eaten out
every night and owned property at the age
of 21 and now I had come to a place where
people had their dinner at home before
going out for a late pint.

In the mid-90s everything started to
change. Thatcher’s Britain crumbled and
Ireland’s fortunes began to rise. Coming
from the highly commercial world of
publishing in London I wanted Irish Tatler
to reflect the interests of what I saw as the
educated Irish woman. While we ran the
expected beauty, fashion and horoscope
pages – all the general content of women’s
magazines – we also commissioned a lot
of investigative pieces on taboo subjects
including marital rape and impotence.
We encouraged Irish journalists and
photographers living abroad to send
us reportage pieces, often with an Irish
relevance, such as how the selective
abortion laws were working in practice in
South Africa. We profiled the key female
political players at the time such as Máire
Geoghegan Quinn and Mary Harney.

In terms of fashion designers, Paul Costello
and Louise Kennedy had really taken off.
John Rocha had his first big show in London
at that time, and his career became set on a
truly international path. Knitwear designer,
Lainey Keogh, was starting to feature in
Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, making a name
for herself in both the French and American
fashion scenes before she really took off at
home here in Ireland.

irishtatlerlooksback 125 YEARS of IRISH TATLER

Left and below,
fashion features
and political
reportage, 1992

“I wanted Irish Tatler to reflect the
interests of the educated Irish woman.
We commissioned a lot of investigative
pieces on taboo subjects including
marital rape and impotence”

Philip Treacy, a young promising Irish interviewing myself in The Shelbourne. His Tomboy tailoring, 1997 and below,
milliner, staged a small catwalk show at the portrait was taken by Conor Horgan, and catwalk trends from 1995
relaunch of Irish Tatler in 1992.Although he I hung his brooding, beautiful face above
was only starting out, even then he carried my desk for the rest of my tenure of the
himself as a true fashion star. With his magazine. We ran fiction every month; my
entourage and his extraordinary creations, first issue featured a short story by John
he was one of the most intimidating fashion McGahern and we also published the first
icons I had ever met. A couple of years later, piece by a young Irish writer called Colum
Vivienne Westwood joined him on stage in McCann. Female Irish writers at that time
Dublin for a fashion show sponsored by were not nearly as plentiful as they are
a big makeup brand. I ended up taking now. There was Deirdre Purcell, Maeve
Vivienne to a seedy nightclub on Leeson Binchy, with Patricia Scanlan’s City Girl
Street where she shook her barely-covered heralding the start of a new era of women’s
booty and her trademark orange hair fiction. We took on a talented author as a
all over the postcard-sized dance floor, monthly columnist, Marian Keyes, after
terrifying the separated accountants – the her first book, Watermelon, took off in the
only ones on Leeson Street at that time UK. Marian and I became friends after she
of the morning. Veteran fashion designer, moved back to Dublin and she encouraged
Richard Lewis, was enjoying a huge surge me greatly in my own quest to become a
of popularity selling his high-street range in full-time author.
A|wear as were Quin and Donnelly, starting
off the trend of high-end designers working The social pages of Irish Tatler were
for high-street brands. always most popular and while many of
the same faces can be seen today, Barbara
We profiled all the big writers at that McMahon and Norma Smurfit for example,
time; Roddy Doyle, Martin McDonagh and there are others that have fallen from
Patrick McCabe as well as British writers public view: Popular broadcasters Bibi
such as Vikram Seth. Baskin, Cynthia Ní Mhurchú and Claire
McKeown who have all moved on to other
Actors who were making a splash at things. In terms of food, Patrick Guilbaud
that time were Brian Dennehy who was moved over to the Merrion from his Baggot
appearing on stage in The Gate in The Street restaurant and Conrad Gallagher
Iceman Cometh, and a particularly gorgeous was absolutely everywhere. In 1997, we ran
Gabriel Byrne who I had the pleasure of

irishtatlerlooksback 125 YEARS of IRISH TATLER

women’s issues in
1995 and 1997

“Those years relaunching and editing the door and then addressing them publicly. In the final
Irish Tatler were tremendously exciting. photograph there were exactly 100 women. However, when the
Not just professionally, but personally too. final picture came through, one of the women in the front row
Ireland became home for me” was a complete unknown. She was wearing an extraordinary
wedding hat which obliterated the face of the esteemed poet
an eight-page article featuring him at home cooking some of his sitting behind her. Further investigations revealed that she was
wonderful recipes with his partner Domini Kemp, who was very somebody’s busybody aunt who had muscled herself into the
much keeping a low profile as the woman behind the great man. front row. We put her name in anyway and wrote it off as a
I often think of that now when I walk into one of her many bagel cosmic joke. Thankfully nobody seemed to notice.
shops or other businesses, or pick up one of her cookery books. To
see Domini enjoying such a wonderful career now as a high-profile Those years relaunching and editing Irish Tatler were
chef and businesswoman is very satisfying. tremendously exciting. Not just professionally, but personally
too. Ireland became home for me. As we moved into the Celtic
The highlight of my time at the helm of the magazine was when Tiger years, Dublin began to fill up with wonderful restaurants,
we celebrated 100 years of Irish Tatler by organising a shoot, which a vibrant immigrant community and an atmosphere that was
was to take portraits of 100 iconic women who had changed the cosmopolitan and fun.
face of Ireland. It was a massive undertaking, administratively as
much as anything else. We had to not only choose the women and In 1997, I met a young graphic designer, Niall Kerrigan, who
invite them, but also then ensure that 100 of them would turn up was friends with the photographers Brian Daly and Hugh Glynn
on the day. Those that we invited that could not be there were all that I worked with a great deal at that time. In 1999, we got
acknowledged in the final issue. But on the day of the shoot itself married. I had, by that time, secured a literary agent – Marianne
people were already getting sniffy about who they thought was Gunne O’Connor who was just starting out herself with me as
and wasn’t on the list. Mary Robinson could not make it, but she her first female writer. When we got back from honeymoon I
sent a wonderful personal message. However, the press picked up found the pressure of editing Irish Tatler and writing fiction in
somehow that she had not been put on the list and I was dragged my spare time too much. Frankly, my day job was too much
onto various radio programmes to defend the fact that she wasn’t fun, and was taking up too much of my creative energy for me
there on the day, as were several other people that were asked and to be able to commit to my writing full time.
unfortunately couldn’t make it. Most of the women, however, were
absolutely thrilled, and I got an incredible buzz out of meeting all My husband supported me until I got my first book deal – then
of them. we had a child and moved to the country where we are living
happily ever after, as they say in the storybooks. However, I still
Every area of society was covered from Special Olympians to the look back fondly on my days in Dublin editing that vibrant
first female pilot. Women from the worlds of the arts, business and magazine through such an exciting and interesting time in Irish
politics were all represented and it was an extraordinary experience modern history. Even now, I like to pop into the newsagents and
for me, personally, meeting each one of them as they came through pull it down from the shelf and reminisce. I will always carry
with me so many special memories.

Kate Kerrigan’s novel, The Dress is in bookshops now, €16.99.


Entering Irish Tatler’s hallowed halls at the age of 21, Elaine Prendeville
rose to editor within a few short years, a position she held from 2006 to
2010. Here, she shares how a magazine really can change your life.
I rish Tatler – and Irish life – from 2000 through to today
was nothing if not eventful. But you knew that, you lived It was special. It was fun. I was having the time of my life.
it. And I lived it, a large portion of it, putting life and soul Three years on, I was editor of the magazine; my single-page
– and my youth! – into this magazine. I had just turned
21 and I remember every moment of that first day; the innocence suitably demolished. Editor Jennifer Stevens had
received a compelling job offer, and so Norah Casey, who had
taken ownership both of the title and the company, told me I

caramel trousers and the green top I wore; the very high was in the hot seat. Note the verb: Norah was not asking but

shoes that caught in the cuffs of my very wide pants causing me to telling (and you wonder how she gets so much done). From that

trip on the way to the copier. I had never worked in an office, much moment I, for my part, was not waving but drowning. While

less a magazine office before, and my typing skills were somewhere friends mulled over further study versus an extended trip to South

near sub-basic. So there I sat, completely green, surrounded by America I was desk-bound, navigating only a never-ending jigsaw

women who seemed very much in control of their careers, typing, of budgets, people, and the rest. Mistakes – many, many mistakes

and – crucially – of their trousers. – were made. Great things happened too. While those peers gained

I soon got into the swing of it. Who wouldn’t? Back then, the qualifications, began to carve out serious, impactful careers, I

space between the idea and the reality of life at a glossy magazine became a quasi-expert of all trades. That’s media work, magazine

was paper thin. Hours spent musing the merits of one pearl work: the constant maintenance of sufficient knowledge to keep

earring over another were deemed fairly spent. Putting fashion your product impermeable, safe from being scuttled. The highs

pages – lovely, lovely fashion pages – together was a job I would came from amazing moments: Fashion shows that crackled with

gladly have paid to do. Fearless features by brilliant writers were glamour; shoots that came together against the odds; interviews

commissioned, debated at morning meetings, enjoyed. Trips to with exotic people in exotic places; late nights becoming delirious

sparkling travel destinations, meanwhile, fell under the ‘official at deadline hour; features our team, and our readers, knew were

business’ banner. Advertising, by contrast, was a country we worthwhile; the Irish Tatler Women of the Year Awards, and the

editorial staff had neither cause nor desire to visit. The money attendant pride we all felt to be associated with something of true

simply came in, and the more it came the bigger the magazine substance.

would become. It was – comparatively – easy. While circulation grew, certain factors beyond our small sphere

The thrill of my first page still lingers. Then-editor Vanessa of control exerted an unseating influence. 2007, 2008, and Ireland’s

Harriss, had, in her wisdom, decided that just the one page – a economy had landed on its face. Champagne-soaked days at the

straightforward cultural news roundup – should fall to my domain. races – gaudily moreish back then, if I’m honest – dried up. The

Any further responsibility carried risk, she suggested gently, my €2,000 handbag relinquished its cachet to the €30 clutch. Quality,

word-per-minute rate notwithstanding. Feeling not restricted but rather than overblown quantity, took gradual precedence. We

elated, I spent hours, days, weeks, with Emma Carty, the endlessly wanted – our readers wanted – not solely the escapism found in

patient and talented art director. We stuck with each other, eyes the pages of Irish Tatler, but advice, expertise, career inspiration,

ever to screen, excruciating over the aptitude of one image over honesty. Our advertisers demanded we work harder to gain their

another; the cooperation between each colour, word, idea and spend. We did work harder, and we appreciated every cent our

motif on this 210mm x 280mm rectangle, our Holy Grail. Then readers expended on buying the magazine. We knuckled down,

we did it again. And again. And again, forming a strong friendship grateful to have any job at all, and we copped on. It worked, and

that holds today, and likely frustrating those who required Emma’s was a fantastic education in itself. And when, in 2010, I moved

attention for the small matter of the title’s remaining 279 pages. on to edit another title, Jessie Collins took my seat and moved the

Screw it, we thought, let’s brazen it out, because our page is special. magazine to multi-award-winning greater heights, eclipsing the


The controversial Opium ad. Below, reportage in
2000. Left, beauty, March 2003

competition wholesale and ensuring the powerful “Hours spent musing the merits of one
presence Irish Tatler enjoys today. pearl earring over another were deemed
fairly spent. Putting fashion pages –
And so to today, and I’m back at work in the lovely, fashion pages – together was a
Irish Tatler offices, albeit in a different capacity. job I would gladly have paid to do”
The magazine’s modern-day archive surrounds
me, and with it the chance to revert to any moment
therein. Arbitrarily I’ll pick up an issue, stopping
at the most familiar pages, experiencing a strange
mixture of happiness and near-horror that the
words, the pictures, the mood on the pages remain
static; perfect-bound; impenetrable. What if we
had done this better? Why does that shoot look
like that? Surely that could have been phrased
better? What were we thinking that month –
just what WERE WE THINKING? And then I
remember that’s the most beautiful thing about a
magazine – it requires intention, certain laborious
processes to complete, commercial waters to
navigate, personalities to corral or endure, and yet
it is never, ever a finished product. There’s always
next issue, always another page plan, blank with
possibility. There are worse philosophies for life.

I pick up an issue.
December 2000: That Sophie Dahl naked ad for
Opium; Urban Life, a column by the late great
Catherine Donnelly, featured the writer smoking
a fag, bemoaning the ‘dearth of taxis’ in Dublin
at Christmastime. Her suggestion? Stay in a hotel.
Brendan Courtney wearing a black leather jacket,
but not in a good way. Cowl-necked models
yielding to kisses from black-suited strangers. A
classified ad, tootling the introduction of Galtee
‘thick cut’ rashers. A mobile phone, no less!

Autowoman supplement, and, my favourite, ideas to 125 YEARS of IRISH TATLER
make this Christmas one to remember (page 144).
iErisxhctaittleerdlooykestb?ackI hope so!

Elaine’s Editor’s pic Fashion in November 2005

Elaine Prendeville

P.S. Want in on the foodie event
of the year? Join us at the
FOOD&WINE Magazine Christmas
Show, November 27th-29th at the
RDS Dublin. See ticketmaster for

phenomenon – the ‘celebrity chef’. The second annual

Irish Tatler Women of the Year Awards announced

with the quote ‘Where else would you see Dolores Fashion features, 2005

O’Riordan heckling Mo Mowlam?’ The Vagina

Monologues. Mail Order Portrait Drawings. Lord

Henry Mountcharles and Eamon Dunphy, mouths 11/10/09 6:55:27 PM
wide-howling with laughter at a joke you wish you’d

heard. An overdue feature on the role of victim

support for women.

June 2005: Jennifer Stevens as editor, bringing

colour, sexiness and shoes – all the shoes – to the

pages of Irish Tatler. The Domestic Goddess myth,

debunked. Secret sex habits of the Irish revealed, with

such spice-up tips as: “Men love to be spoilt in their

cars.” A launch interview with Natalie Massenet of Marian Keyes on new beauty from

LancÔme, YSL and Sisley (some good things don’t

change). Victoria Smurfit in the social pages, looking

the same as today (ditto).

I could keep going, but should probably get back to


Magazines are, by nature, about surface. Yet,

despite the shiny shoes, hotels and people, Irish “We have broken taboos – from
Tatler has plumbed important, compelling depths, domestic abuse to abortion,
and continues to do so. Since 2001, the Irish Tatler
Women of the Year Awards has heralded outstanding

Irish women, at home and abroad: Women who are championing those brilliant women
carving out success in every aspect of business and unafraid to vault the parapet”
industry, campaigning for change, and acting for those
who cannot. We have broken taboos – from domestic

abuse to abortion, championing those brilliant

women unafraid to vault the parapet. We have

consistently focused on career options, advancement

and coaching for women… to the point that we now

offer professional qualifications through the Irish

Tatler Academy. Our chairwoman, Norah Casey, has

expended preternatural energy on making all of this

happen, ensuring those shiny shoes featured on our

pages are made for walking, running and conquering

the world in.

From 21 years old to today – at 34 – Irish Tatler

has been my education. Working for the magazine

has taught me how Irish women think and feel, how

they express themselves in every facet of their vibrant

lives. It has afforded me close contact with countless

heroines – from actresses to activists, presidents and a

real-life princess. Irish Tatler’s 2000-today archive acts

as a barometer for Irish female empowerment, and

working for the magazine has turned me from feckless

girl to card-carrying feminist. Then the

irishtatlerlooksback 125 YEARS of IRISH TATLER

In June 2005
things got intimate

“I have moved from In April 2009,
wondering why we Marian Keyes penned an
on earth we would homage to Debbie Deegan
need an awards
ceremony for Fashion from January 2010
women to realising
how vital it was ”

word ‘women’ itself made me feel
uncomfortable – how could we be
considered a homogeneous group? I
have moved from wondering why we
on earth, we would need an awards
ceremony for women – tokenistic,
surely? – to realising how vital it was,
and remains so.

Irish Tatler has been my livelihood
and my education, a lucky break that
afforded a liberal independence. It
hasn’t prevented me depending on one
person, however. Those cover lines are
accurate, it transpires – a magazine
can change your life. A photographer
who called to the Irish Tatler offices
in 2007 is sitting beside me as I type,
spray-mounting pictures onto a table
plan. He’s wondering why I’m working,
considering we’re getting married

Like so many times in my career, I’m
tired, my wrists hurt from typing (speed
and accuracy of same much improved,
thank you…), I know I should be
looking at something blue rather than
a blinking screen. But I’m happy, I tell
him. Because this has never felt like
work for me.

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