Our son Daire was in Dublin for the weekend, and because we hadn’t seen him in a few months we decided to drive up last Saturday. And what a lovely evening we spent in The Chop House, savouring our delicious steaks, catching up on news and delighting in a beautiful evening and great conversation.
As Daire was heading off to London the following day he suggested we drop in for lunch at Hunters Hotel in Co Wicklow on our way back home. I confess I had never heard of it, but he promised we’d love its country setting and gorgeous food. So, come Sunday, we drove there.
You could quite easily miss the hotel, but we managed to park safely in the courtyard and walked through, peeking into various rooms before we found the garden outside. Apart from three young cyclists, several groups of people were scattered among the tables and chairs engrossed in their Sunday papers, sipping coffee or glasses of wine. It was such a relaxed atmosphere we decided to order coffee and I headed off to the car to fetch our own papers.
On the way I passed a family of four. The man said ‘hello’ as I, too absorbed in my own thoughts, shuffled by before I could really register his face. It was then it suddenly hit me that maybe that guy was Daniel Day-Lewis. Given my ability to get the wrong end of the stick with people, I dismissed the notion, retrieved my papers and sat down in my seat.
I was sipping coffee for just a minute when all four walked to a table directly in my line of sight and acted, well, normally, like most families enjoying a Sunday out. I was willing ‘Daniel’ to turn around so I could get a better look, and after a moment or two he obliged. And then there could be no doubt – it was Daniel Day-Lewis. Delighted with my impeccable powers of observation I thought briefly about surreptitiously taking a photo with my iPhone and posting it on Twitter, but restrained myself. Thankfully.
I was reminded of the time some years ago when Daire, then president of the Philosophical Society in Trinity, sent my sister – a huge fan of Gabriel Byrne – an invite to a talk the actor was giving at the Phil. When questions were invited from the audience Lorraine stood up and uttered the immortal, cringe-inducing words, “I love you Gabriel!’ Needless to say she hasn’t lived that down, nor has Daire forgotten it.
It doesn’t help that I’m a huge fan of Day-Lewis, and I’d have loved nothing more than going over, introducing myself, shaking his hand and asking him to pose for a selfie with me, but…. well, that was never going to happen. I’m just not that type of person. I’m way too shy for a start, and also this was a very private time for him and his family. I’d like to think that if I were ever famous people might respect my privacy, especially at a Sunday family get together.
So I kept my iPhone on the table, finished my coffee, read the paper, and later went inside for lunch. Some time afterwards Daniel and his family arrived in the dining room and took a table just across the room from us. The iPhone stayed in my pocket, and about an hour later we went back to the garden to take our coffees there.
On our way through Hunters Hotel to pay the bill and make our exit I cast a glance at the dining room and, yes, Day-Lewis was still there.
Unfortunately, I have no autograph to boast as a souvenir, just the memory of having lunch with Daniel Day-Lewis – almost. Oh, and lunch was delightful. I highly recommend it, although I can’t guarantee Day-Lewis will be there.