Cashel Palace Hotel barman (Ambassador) Denis Heffernan marked his 70th birthday on Thursday with a surprise celebration in the hotel.
The high point of the night came when Denis was presented by MC Claire Flanagan with a “This is your life” book of photographs and accounts of events chronicling his 47 years working in the hotel.
As regulars to the basement bar are only too aware Denis doesn’t need too much prompting to break into song and at his special event the genial crooner entertained the packed long room at every opportunity.
Talking to Denis about his time in the Palace (by the way he has not retiring or is he even thinking of it) the stories and names from the past came flooding back. When he began as a barman in 1967 the hotel, a former bishops’ palace, had been in operation for five years and was owned by David Nall-Cain, son of Lord Brocket who also owned Carton House, Co Kildare. In the early 70s James Cox Brady Jr, American businessman and financier took it over. At this stages Denis’s computer brain clicks in and he expands on that simple fact to tell me that James Cox Brady’s son Nicholas became United States Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Regan and George Bush Sr. His first manager was Miss Carmel Smith, who was succeeded by Paul O’Connor, a noted rugby player with Cashel RFC. Jack Donnelly, who managed a string of hotels in his time also came in the 70. Through the years the list of celebrities who have availed of Denis’s hospitality in the cellar bar is impressive. Racing legend Lester Piggott, Robert Sangster, one of the founders of the Coolmore Empire. Larry Hagman (JR of Dallas), Stephanie Beacham (Dynasty) for whom he sang ‘Danny Boy,’ actors Trevor Howard (Mutiny on the Bounty), Martin Sheen, Richard Harris, brother-in-law of former manager Jack Donnelly, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cyril Cusack and doyenne of Irish literature Edna O’Brien.