You’re A Star presenter Brian Ormond is dating the widow of a Sligo club impresario. Mezzalie McGarry, 36, has turned to him after the sudden and tragic death of husband, Philip, eight months ago.
He died of a stroke in April, aged 43, leaving behind his wife of 10 years and the couple’s eight-year-old son. Since he died, Mezzalie has taken over the running of two nightclubs in Sligo town, Envy and the recently opened Velvet Room, which her husband had set up. They are jointly worth at least E4.5m.
Ormond, in a self-penned newspaper column, said of the relationship: ‘I’ve been seeing my new girlfriend Mezzalie McGarry for a while now and we’re getting on great. We’re very happy.’ And he added: ‘She regularly comes up to Dublin to stay with me. It’s great. We love seeing each other.’ The 27-year-old RTÉ presenter – who briefly dated actress Tara Leniston – met Mezzalie in September, just five months after her husband died.
Last Wednesday, the pair were spotted at the famous Tobernalt Holy Well site a few miles from Sligo town – a romantic spot frequented by courting couples. They have also been seen out at more public events – like the recent opening night of the Ross O’Carroll-Kelly play, The Last Days of the Celtic Tiger, at Dublin’s Olympia.
Former croupier Mezzalie – or Mez to her friends – met her late husband Philip about 13 years ago while on a trip around the world. She had visited Australia before taking what was supposed to be a fleeting trip to Sligo.
At that time, Philip was running the town’s Envy nightclub. Shortly after Mez met him, they started dating and she began working at the club as a barmaid. She soon became a fixture at the venue but stopped working there shortly after her marriage in June 1997.
The birth of the couple’s son followed two years later. When her child was six, Mezzalie began selling therapeutic shoes from their Carrowmore home for the Swedish MBT – Masai Barefoot Technology – franchise. She soon became their biggest-selling agent and opened one store with Philip’s help.
In 2006, he achieved the ambition of a lifetime when he opened his trendy night spot, the Velvet Room – a move that cost him more than E3m.
The club was a favourite haunt of celebrities, including his close pals from Westlife, Shane Filan and Kian Egan. Both singers were at his widow’s side at his funeral in May. Philip was born with a defective neck vein, which is believed to have caused his fatal stroke.
A former work colleague of Mez described the go-getting business-woman last night, saying: ‘When she sees something worth doing, she goes for it and invariably does very well. She’s very astute, very driven.
‘I don’t know very much about Brian but he’s certainly going to have to work hard at keeping her impressed and interested. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly.’
Mez is also said to enjoy her nightlife and has an eclectic circle of friends. Her friend revealed: ‘Mez has quite a few close gay and lesbian friends. She’s very open-minded.’
With the help of her 70-year-old father, Per Ekberg, she has ploughed her energies into running the clubs. Until recently, Philip’s brother Niall was a director of Philip’s companies Irish Nightclubs & Leisure Ltd and Rowan Heath Ltd. He resigned from both companies after just a few months. Mr Ekberg has since been appointed a director of the companies.
However, control of another of Philip’s companies – Vallicelli Ltd – remains in the hands of his mother, Noreen. She is listed as the only surviving director of the company, which appears to own Philip’s palatial house, which is valued at more than €820,000.