AFTER years of speculation about his various ‘close friends’ while in Ireland, the US ambassador has finally came clean.
Speaking at his leaving do at the ambassador’s official residence in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Thomas C Foley revealed he is engaged.
But the name of his intended will not ring any bells with anyone here, despite the women he was linked to over the years.
Last night he said: ‘Contrary to what some people have said about me, the young lady I am going to get married to lives . . . in the States.’
He revealed he got engaged to one of George Bush’s associate councillors at The Whitehouse Leslie Fahrenkopf last summer, and the couple intend to start a family after an ‘April or May’ wedding.
Last night, the father-of-one said: ‘I’ve been associated with a number of people and almost all of what has been said about those friendships has been untrue.
‘The truth is, I’ve made some good friendships while I have been here. And that is really all there is to say about them.
‘One of the reasons why I am marrying soon is because I am not getting any younger.’
Previously 53-year-old divorcee Foley has been linked to actor John Hurt’s ex-girlfriend Sarah Owen.
She was writing for a self- styled ‘thinking woman’s’ magazine while he was – or so people thought – very much the eligible man about town, regarded as a proverbial ‘poster boy’ for her affluent, middle-aged readers of The Gloss.
That they were supposed to be something of an item last summer – around about the time Mr Foley had dropped down on bended knee and proposed – was the talk of Dublin’s social whirl.
Another woman he was linked to was RTE’s Mary Kennedy, but now all that seems to be little more than ‘idle gossip for the chattering classes’ – as one Foley aid put it last night.
Before he made his announcement, he joked about how he had been told about the moment one realises you are no longer an US ambassador.
He said: ‘This happens when you jump into the back of your car and nothing happens.’ He also apologised to the small group diplomats if he had made any ‘diplomatic faux pas’.
He said: ‘I’m not a career diplomat, so I was pretty much learning on the job. I did the best I could.’
Of the job itself, he said: ‘It was a wonderful experience. I couldn’t recommend this life enough – nice house, nice neighbourhood, chefs, cars, and it’s all free. I’ll miss it.’
He also hinted that he may now run for office in America.
Guests at the party included Gerry Ryan, Ryan Tubridy, ex-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, and ex-Justice Minister, Malcolm McDowell.
Mr Foley, who has a 17-year-old son – Thomas Foley Jnr, who is dating Irish actress Sarah Bolger – became US Ambassador to Ireland in October 2006. He was appointed to the position by George Bush.
He had previously worked in Iraq, where he oversaw the development of most of the war-torn country’s 192 state-owned businesses.
While in office, Foley was embroiled in a minor controversy over the Government’s stance on genetically-modified crops.
In August last year, it was revealed that he had written to the government expressing his disappointment at its stated aim of turning Ireland into a GM-free zone.
An internal briefing paper prepared for Government junior ministers discloses that Mr Foley wrote to Minister for Health, Mary Harney, in July 2007 stating his opposition to the current abstention policy.
He said that the US government perceived the stance ‘as detrimental to biotechnology and a possible barrier to trade’