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Golden girl Kellie, the pride of Portland Row

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Bernie Hanaphy looked up and down her street.

The place was buzzing.

Like St Patrick’s Day had collided with all the cancelled festivals and lost All-Ireland final celebrations and exploded in a riot of bunting and balloons, music and merrymaking. Two missing years of colour and excitement suddenly rolled into one exhilarating neighbourhood party.

She was thrilled to see it.

“We done her proud, didn’t we?”

You did, Bernie. You certainly did.

For this was Portland Row, where hearts are bursting with pride, returning the compliment to its Olympic champion, Kellie Harrington.

But while the focus of the gold medalist’s homecoming on Tuesday was on the road where she grew up, her success was celebrated by all her community in Dublin’s north inner city.

They came from the surrounding streets and schemes to pay tribute, decked out in “Golden Girl, Kellie” T-shirts and all their finally liberated Patrick’s Day regalia.

The party atmosphere on Portland Row was irresistible.

With just a couple of hours to go before their heroine was due to parade by in an open-top bus, two cherry pickers were deployed to get the overhead triumphal arches of balloons and flags in place. Gold ribbons and bows were tied to the crush barriers. Green and orange Christmas tinsel was pressed into early service. Kitchen and garden chairs were placed up against the barriers by residents to reserve viewing positions in case there was a sudden influx of fans at the last minute. The children were eating chocolate gold medals faster than the Italian relay team. It didn’t matter, because they had plastic gold medals for hanging around their necks.

Cheryl Howard and Kadie Curtis from Sheriff Street were waiting at a spot opposite Kellie’s parents’ home. They had two three-month old Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Rocky and Apollo were named after the Sylvester Stallone boxing films “because they have two black eyes”.

The dogs wore matching white Kellie Harrington tops. “I just ironed on the pictures to baby vests with the ends cut off them,” said Cheryl. “You make do with what you have at short notice.”

The aunt and neice are proud of Kellie’s sporting achievement but also very proud of what she has done for her home place.

Supporters line the streets to welcome Olympic gold medal winning boxer Kellie Harrington home to Portland Row in Dublin 1 on Tuesday. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Supporters line the streets to welcome Olympic gold medal winning boxer Kellie Harrington home to Portland Row in Dublin 1 on Tuesday. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Kellie Harrington waves to fans as she returned to Portland Row on Tuesday following her success in Tokyo. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Kellie Harrington waves to fans as she returned to Portland Row on Tuesday following her success in Tokyo. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

“She’s like a beacon of light in the area now after everything that has gone on in the last few years,” explained Cheryl as Kadie said it was wonderful to see all the community come together in celebration. “It’s not just Portland Row, it’s Sheriff Street, Ballybough, the North Strand, Sean McDermott Street . . . ”

Everyone on the street is in great form as they await the arrival of their homegrown heroine.

“I nearly wrote Ant ‘n Dec instead of aunt and niece “ said the Irish Times to the two women.

“You can call her Dec” retorted Cheryl like a shot. “Because I feel like decking her half the time.”

St Patrick was lighting up a ciggie halfway down the road at the barrier, down from the big red-brick former convent which locals always knew as “the old maids’ home” and is now apartments.

“I wear the outfit for the soccer matches and the parade. I just go out for the craic,” said Liam Mooney from Grenville Terrace. “Even for the last two years I done the walk down O’Connell Street with the parade cancelled. Couldn’t let them take me thunder away. I had to turn out for Kellie today.”

Emma O’Leary-Carabini from Sheriff Street was on the decks for the afternoon, in a little corral with her laptop, mixing desk and speakers. She used to be a full-time singer doing funerals and weddings and gigs in local pubs and clubs. But with the pandemic her work as a singer and DJ dried up. Now she is back performing, but only at weekends.

“I became a home-care worker in palliative care. I absolutely love it. I don’t know how I could do without it now. I do the singing and karaoke and all with the old people. I just couldn’t give it up. Kellie, coming from here and being such a great success and role model, that’s great for us here.”

Directly across from Emma and her sound system were musicians and buskers Mick McLoughlin and Eddie Sherlock. They were set up in the small front garden of the house opposite, alternating with Emma.

Eddie belted out a fine number he wrote specially for Kellie, to roars of approval from the locals.

Thomas (he didn’t give his full name) was back selling flags and scarves “and the aul bubbly coloured wigs”. He sells outside matches and other events. “The pandemic has robbed us of a living. It’s hard to get a shilling and we’re trying to get a few bob back.”

Suddenly, a number of gardaí on bicycles swooped in like an Olympic cycling team and asked for his licence. But Thomas had already been on to the council and was told no permit necessary as it wasn’t an official event.

He went on selling. His next customer was Ruth from Latvia who has three daughters and lives around the corner. They are delighted with Kellie. Ruth bought three flags “€2 each and three for a fiver, love” and a large tricolor.

Paddy Murdiff is a member of the city council-funded North East Inner City initiative and on its Public Implementation Board. He is retired “and in nearly everything around here except the women’s sodality”. Her win has buoyed up morale in a vibrant community frustrated by pandemic restrictions. The local Monto festival hasn’t been held in two years.

“I think Kellie is a total credit to this area, and she’s also the nicest woman you could ever meet.”

Just after 4.30, the Garda mounted arrived. The four greys made quite the impression, although not the best one as the horses liberally manured the upper end of the street.

“Typical. The guards shiteing all over Dublin 1 again” sniffed one resident, holding her nose.

Lily Fagan (84), who has been appearing 24/7 on television and radio as The Queen of Portland Row, was sitting out in a collapsible chair and holding court. She has become something of a tourist attraction. Beside was Cllr Christy Burke, who was handing out plastic gold medals. Across the road from Christy, Cllr Nial Ring was holding forth at some length on live radio, like a GAA pundit.

The word went around like wildfire. “Two minutes! Two minutes! She’s nearly in Ballybough!”

Liam Mooney welcoming home Olympic gold medal winning boxer Kellie Harrington to Portland Row in Dublin 1 on Tuesday. Photograph: Alan Betson
Liam Mooney welcoming home Olympic gold medal winning boxer Kellie Harrington to Portland Row in Dublin 1 on Tuesday. Photograph: Alan Betson
Members of the Russell Family welcoming Olympic gold medal winning boxer Kellie Harrington back to Portland Row in Dublin 1 on Tuesday. Photograph: Alan Betson
Members of the Russell Family welcoming Olympic gold medal winning boxer Kellie Harrington back to Portland Row in Dublin 1 on Tuesday. Photograph: Alan Betson

Christy O’Brien, ex-Irish Army pipe major and a member of the IUNVA pipe band, got ready for action. A veteran of two tours of the Lebanon, Christy, from Sheriff Street, was resplendent in his gold Irish kilt and green jacket.

“I’m going to play her favourite song, The Wild Colonial Boy, when the bus goes past her house.”

A helicopter was circling overhead. “The lift this has give to this place is unbelieveable,” said Christy, who was standing outside Chrisy and Yvonne Harrington’s front door.

Then, at five past five, the cheers came from the corner at Summerhill. Blue lights appeared at the top corner. Then the bus itself.

A show of gold balloons went up in the air. “Are yis right? Wave your flags now. Don’t forget to wave your flags!”

Christy started piping. Kellie’s aunties – with lovely hairdos – appeared on the front step with family and friends. A number of men from a few doors down were out on the street laying a line of gold stair carpet across the street. The horses were there, with the motorbikes and the push-bikes. Christy segued from The Saints Go Marching in to God Save Ireland Say the Heroes. “We’re all part of Kellie’s Army” sang the crowd.

And suddenly, she was there. Kellie, their Kellie Harrington. Waving from the top of the bus, crying her eyes out.

“Aaah, God love her,” blubbered a man at the crash barrier. Everyone was crying. “She waved at me. She waved at me!” shouted a little boy to his mammy. “I saw that. I definitely saw that,” she said, wiping away the tears.

And then she was gone. But not for long as the bus was doing a loop around the northeast inner city and due back shortly. “Christy is a hero, Christy is a hero, lah-lah-lah-lah, lah-lah-lah-lah” sang the crowd. He was doing requests on the bagpipes at this stage. “Put him in the paper, Put him in the paper, lah-lah-lah-lah.”

Then she was back. More composed this time, slowly past her house, the crowd going wild. Somebody threw up a gold Simba soft toy and she caught it. As the bus slowly rounded the corner from Portland Row on its final sweep, Kellie Harrington help up the little gold lion in one hand and her gold medal in the other.

More tears. More kisses to blow to friends.

Past the five lamps, the landmark of her life. Three of them lit in green, white and orange.

The crowd dispersed. Elated. Exhausted.

“That was just brilliant. Wasn’t it?”

The musicians were still going. And the last song they played?

Dublin in the Rare Aul Times.

Welcome home Kellie.

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Lori Loughlin and fashion designer husband drop $13M on Palm Desert vacation home

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Former Full House actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have dropped $13million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis, following their release from prison for their involvement in the college-admissions scandal.  

Loughlin, who was released from prison in December, with her husband following in April, appear to be celebrating their newfound freedom with the purchase of their vacation getaway in the La Quinta community.

The five-bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home, situated in the guard-gated exclusive Madison Club, comes lavished with several amenities, including a wine cellar, movie theater, two pools, two spas, a wet bar and an outdoor projector-theater.  

Former Full House actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have dropped $13million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis, following their release from prison for their involvement in the college-admissions scandal.

Former Full House actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have dropped $13million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis, following their release from prison for their involvement in the college-admissions scandal.

The open dining and living room area is perfect for watching L.A sunsets

The open dining and living room area is perfect for watching L.A sunsets 

The home comes equipped with several outdoor fireplaces, perfect for entertaining guests on chilly evenings

The home comes equipped with several outdoor fireplaces, perfect for entertaining guests on chilly evenings 

Opulent swimming pools encompass the outdoor area, in addition to an outdoor projector for watching films

Opulent swimming pools encompass the outdoor area, in addition to an outdoor projector for watching films 

The home comes lavished with several amenities, including a wine cellar, movie theater, two pools, outdoor fireplaces, two spas, a wet bar and an outdoor projector-theater

The home comes lavished with several amenities, including a wine cellar, movie theater, two pools, outdoor fireplaces, two spas, a wet bar and an outdoor projector-theater 

Former 'Full House' actress, Lori Loughlin, (right) and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, (left) have dropped $13 million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis

Former ‘Full House’ actress, Lori Loughlin, (right) and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, (left) have dropped $13 million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis

Built in 2019, the home was formally owned by Assurance co-founder Michael Rowell and his wife, Alexis, who purchased it for only $9.5 million. 

A few of their neighbors include Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Nike’s Phil Knight, Cindy Crawford and Scooter Braun. 

The purchase comes a year after Loughlin and Giannulli bought a $9.5 million modern farmhouse in the Hidden Hills area of Los Angeles.      

A federal judge in Boston recently granted Loughlin ‘expedited’ permission to travel to Canada to possibly rekindle her career. The request was necessary as she remains on probation.

The five-bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home is situated in the guard-gated exclusive Madison Club in the La Quinta community

The five-bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home is situated in the guard-gated exclusive Madison Club in the La Quinta community

Built in 2019, the home was formally owned by Assurance co-founder Michael Rowell and his wife, Alexis, who purchased it for only $9.5 million

Built in 2019, the home was formally owned by Assurance co-founder Michael Rowell and his wife, Alexis, who purchased it for only $9.5 million

An large dining area opens out onto the terrace, as an intricate chandelier hangs from the ceiling

An large dining area opens out onto the terrace, as an intricate chandelier hangs from the ceiling

Also featured in the amenities is a chic, oversized wine cellar

Also featured in the amenities is a chic, oversized wine cellar 

Loughlin was unable to travel due to her prison sentence and ensuing community service commitments stemming from her involvement in the ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ scheme, which involved wealthy parents paying large sums of money to get their kids into elite universities.    

‘Ms. Loughlin anticipates she will be traveling for about one week’ and is ‘being offered a filming production project’ if granted permission, her initial request sent by a probation official stated.   

It emerged in 2019 that Lori and Giannulli bribed their daughters Olivia and Isabella’s way into University Of Southern California.

Lori and her fashion designer husband paid $500,000 to falsely pass the girls off as potential college rowers on USC’s rowing team.

Although they initially claimed to be innocent, Mossimo pled guilty last May to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services and mail fraud, while Lori pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.  

Giannulli was sentenced to five months, while Loughlin served two months behind bars.

It emerged in 2019 that Lori and Giannulli bribed their daughters Olivia and Isabella's way into University Of Southern California

It emerged in 2019 that Lori and Giannulli bribed their daughters Olivia and Isabella’s way into University Of Southern California

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Tenor fails to rent home as work in Covid-hit sector deemed precarious

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An Irish tenor, who has performed for presidents and emperors and been shortlisted for a Grammy award, is struggling to rent a home in Dublin because of a perception that working in the Covid-19-hit entertainment industry makes him a risk.

Paul Byrom said he was “knocked for six” last week after a potential landlord refused to even meet him on the grounds that the pandemic had made his profession singularly unsuitable for the rental market.

Byrom has earned his living as a musician for more than 20 years and has performed for Emperor Akihito of Japan, former Irish presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson and former US president Barack Obama.

He was one of the original soloists in the Celtic Thunder show that toured the world and had number one albums on the World Billboard Chart. A solo album, This is the Moment, debuted at number one on the same chart and was shortlisted for a Grammy nomination.

Byrom has continued to work online during the pandemic and is looking forward to restarting his live career soon. “I am no Bono, but I am not starting out in the game,” he said.

However, none of his achievements appear to have been good enough for one Dublin landlord. Byrom said he and his girlfriend were keen to move to a bigger home and found a two-bedroom house in south county Dublin advertised at a rent of €2,000 a month.

‘Exemplary tenant’

It was being let by the estate agent which manages the property the couple currently live in and he was assured that, as an “exemplary tenant” for more than three years, his application would most likely be considered favourably.

“The estate agents said that while it was looking after the letting, it wouldn’t be the management company and the guy who owned it would be the point of contact,” Byrom said. “I was told that the landlord would want to meet me and I had no problem with any of that – I thought that made sense.”

He and his girlfriend assembled all the paperwork including her payslips and details of his earnings from his accountant. “I had moved in in my head but then I got a phone call saying the application had been rejected,” he said.

His mother joked that he had been turned down “because the landlord didn’t want you practising your Ave Maria’s at 10 in the morning.”

But that was not the reason. It emerged that the “landlord thought that because Covid had hit my industry hard he would be too nervous to take me on. He simply didn’t want anyone from the entertainment industry,” Byrom said.

Mortgage

He said struggling to rent or get a mortgage were not the only issues entertainers encounter.

“Try and look for car insurance as a singer and the companies don’t want to know. So I can’t drive a car or rent a home or even take advantage of the bike to work tax scheme because I am self employed.

“And this is a country that claims to be the land of the bards and the poets. The amount of roadblocks put in an entertainer’s way are just crazy, but then they will say get out there and sing Danny Boy and represent the country. You’d have to wonder if Ireland wants artists to be here at all.”


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Inside the tiny ‘smart home’ that will be sold in London for less than £300k

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Making homes affordable for first-time buyers is a problem that does not have one easy solution.  

With house prices having risen rapidly since the start of the pandemic, many are finding themselves priced out – especially in inner cities. 

But major housebuilder Barratt Homes thinks it has found a way for young people to climb on to the housing ladder without breaking the bank. 

The living area in Barratt's 'SMRT' home. The apartment comes in at just 37 square metres

The living area in Barratt’s ‘SMRT’ home. The apartment comes in at just 37 square metres

At its Eastman Village development in Harrow, North London,  it has built a tiny home measuring just 37 square metres or 400 sq ft. 

It may have the smallest floor plan that can be built under the Government’s minimum space standards, but Barratt describes the flat as ‘a forward-thinking luxury product that is perfectly proportioned’. 

Although the apartments might charitably be described as ‘cosy,’ the price is right, with homes starting at £290,000. This is £40,000 cheaper than the standard Barratt home in London. 

It says the tiny homes are designed to ‘help ease the squeeze experienced by London’s “generation rent”, who face ever-rising property prices and rental costs’. 

According to Halifax’s latest house price index, the average house price in London is currently £508,000; a figure which has increased by around £25,000 since the start of the pandemic. 

Barratt is calling the new design a ‘SMRT’ home, and launched off-plan sales at the development in Harrow at the weekend. 

If it is successful, it could roll out the pocket-sized apartments across the country – and prices outside of London would likely be even lower.  

This is Money went on a tour of the show apartment, and spoke to Barratt’s senior sales manager Joseph Antoniazzi about whether this is really what first-time buyers want. 

The flats have been designed by Barratt’s in-house design team, BD Living, and Blocc Interiors.  

They have aimed to make the most of what little space is available, for example by adding a built-in storage unit with shelves and cupboards around the bed, and a kitchen storage cupboard that houses the washer dryer but also has room for other bulky items such as a hoover or ironing board. 

According to Barratt, small is beautiful. Its marketing material for the apartments says: 

‘While the square footage may be smaller on paper, the illusion of space created by wide balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, and clever interior layouts, means the apartments feel open, optimised, and modern. 

‘Storage in every nook and cranny means there is no need for clunky furniture like wardrobes, sideboards, and drawers.’ 

The bedroom in the SMRT home has storage for clothes built all the way around it

The bedroom in the SMRT home has storage for clothes built all the way around it 

The kitchen cupboards have pull-out shelves to store canned food and spices, and the worktops are slimmer than average to maximise the floor space, as is the dishwasher. 

‘We have maximised every inch and made sure the space is really functional,’ said Antoniazzi. 

There is space for a small dining table in between the kitchen area and living room. Antoniazzi says they initially installed a table that folded out from the wall, but that potential buyers did not respond well to it so it was changed.  

For those working from home, there is the option to have an ‘office niche’ which consists of a desk and storage in the living room, side-by-side with the television. 

The 'office niche' in the living area provides a small space in which to work from home

The ‘office niche’ in the living area provides a small space in which to work from home

Although this may work for a single person, it could present a challenge for a couple that were both working at home.

There is also the option to have a small dressing table in the bedroom, though this would need to sit behind the door. 

In the bathroom, there is a well-sized shower cubicle, which Antoniazzi said buyers preferred to a bath.  

The outdoor terrace is small, with room for two chairs and a small table, but it backs on to a larger shared garden which gives the illusion of space. 

The apartment comes with a small terrace which backs on to a larger shared garden

The apartment comes with a small terrace which backs on to a larger shared garden

For flats on upper floors, there would instead be a balcony.

Antoniazzi said the homes were designed for first-time buyers, key workers and students, and acknowledged that they would not be suitable for a family. 

‘It is very much first-time buyer driven,’ he said, adding that lifestyle changes during the pandemic had seen families move out of locations like Harrow to the countryside, and be replaced by renters from central London – as people from across the spectrum sought to move up a level in terms of space. 

‘Post-lockdown, we saw a change in the type of buyer that was coming to view our apartments in Harrow. 

‘Whereas previously it was couples and young families, we saw the profile change towards people who had previously been renting in central London and didn’t want to waste money on rent any more.’

The storage cupboard in the kitchen provides some space for household essentials

The storage cupboard in the kitchen provides some space for household essentials

He said the idea for the micro-apartments came from the fact that many of these potential buyers had saved up during the pandemic and were keen to get on the housing ladder, but needed something more affordable than the market average. 

Antoniazzi also said the small homes could become a more popular way of getting on the housing ladder when the Government’s Help to Buy scheme ends in 2023.  

Barratt has said that, if buyers respond well to these micro-apartments, they could build more in cities across the country. 

The apartments could work well for single occupiers, who often struggle to get a large enough mortgage because of salary requirements. 

Living there as a couple could be a squeeze – but the success of the SMRT homes will reveal whether first-time buyers think that is a price worth paying to get on the ladder.

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