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Just Back From Ireland: Alfre Woodard

'When you're at a hotel and your needs are being taken care of in a gracious way—that's the ultimate luxury'

OCCUPATION Actor HOME BASE Santa Monica, California COUNTRY LIVING After two months in Toronto shooting Take the Lead (out next year) with costar Antonio Banderas, Woodard joined her husband (writer-producer Roderick Spencer), children (Mavis, 14, and Duncan, 11), and 40 members of her extended family for a reunion at Glin Castle (County Limerick; 353-68/34173; www.glincastle.com; doubles from $334). "Glin is the most homey place imaginable," Woodard says. "It's as if you're going to your grandmom's house, except her house is a castle and, no matter who you are, you're treated like royalty." THE SECRET'S SAFE As the newest resident of Wisteria Lane on Desperate Housewives, which starts its second season this month on ABC, Woodard has had to keep her lips sealed about the show's latest twists—even in Ireland: "There was twitter about Housewives while I was on vacation," she says. "People would say, 'You can share the secret with me; it won't get past Glin.' " READY FOR TAKEOFF "The longer the plane ride, the better," Woodard says. "It's the one place people can't bother you. Even if it's an eighteen-hour journey, I will stay awake the entire time—I cherish reading uninterrupted."

—LORAINE ALTERMAN BOYLE

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