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Fair City's Yvonne - How I rubbed shoulders with Charles Haughey

WE know her as social-climbing, Yvonne Doyle who hails from a working class background in Fair City's Carrigstown - but in real life actress Ciara O'Callaghan has been rubbing shoulders with the elite since a young age.

The Herald can reveal Ciara has powerful connections, having mixed with former Taoiseach Charles Haughey throughout her teens.

The late politician, who died in 2006, lived in Kinsealy near Malahide Castle, where Ciara's mum, respected sommelier Mary O'Callaghan, was employed as head chef at the time.

The brunette beauty says that working as a waitress at the castle's restaurant, one of Haughey's favourite haunts, was her first job and helped set her on her current successful career path.

The late Taoiseach, who led the country from December 1979 to February 1992, wasn't the only influential contact she met along the way.

Other dignitaries the actress rubbed shoulders with included British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who attended a political banquet at the venue in 1990.

Ciara also had the chance to meet some of her idols from the big screen during her waitressing days, with Colm Meaney, Kelsey Grammer and Sandra Bullock all visiting.

The actress, from Swords originally, explained how she pitched in wherever necessary and helped out with everything from waitressing to helping prepare the vegetables.

"I got my first job waiting tables at Malahide Castle," she explained. "Charles Haughey was a regular diner there.

"My mother was a chef there and later became a sommelier, too.

"She was running the place and because I was the boss's daughter there was no mercy. I had to do everything from peeling potatoes upwards, but it was great to have a sense of independence and money."

Peter Fowler, who holds the catering license for Granary Cafe, Merchant's Quay Waterford explained how he worked alongside both Ciara and her mother at Malahide Castle during this time, before he went on to take over from Mary in the late 90s. "You could see her talent from the very beginning," he said.

lnolan@herald.ie