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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Eire’s allure

Some people have expressed the opinion that breathless and gossipy accounts of weddings of big stars like Pierce Brosnan have no place on a web site devoted to serious and meaningful discussion of film and cinema. I just want to say that I couldn’t agree more.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to my ongoing, non-stop coverage of the Pierce Brosnan wedding.

Actually, The Missus put things into perspective when she asked me what the Pierce Brosnan fuss was all about anyway. “It’s not like he’s married someone famous,” she observed astutely, “like Jennifer Aniston or Madonna.” When she’s right, she’s right.

But a more interesting question is why, of all the places on earth, Brosnan happened to get married in Ireland? It’s not really a big mystery since we know that Brosnan was born in Ireland, so he would reasonably have a sentimental attachment to the place. And, in the course of following the saturation media coverage of the event, I learned that some of the shooting of the final episode of his old television series Remington Steele was done at Ashford Castle. The plot thickens.

It turns out, however, that Ireland holds some sort of fascination for many big stars and other celebrities. I became poignantly aware of this last week when I spotted a large photo of former US President Bill Clinton coolly quaffing a Guinness on the front page of The Irish Independent. The accompanying article explained that rumors (or, as they are called here, rumours) are flying that Clinton is on the verge of buying a home in lovely Kenmare, County Kerry. Oh well, there goes the neighborhood (or, as it is called here, the neighbourhood).

A few days later, Radio Kerry reported that a developer in another Kerry town, Ballybunion, has offered Clinton a “luxury apartment” in a new building he is constructing—absolutely free! It wasn’t clear if this developer had actually received a pardon from Clinton or if was merely doing this out of the goodness of his heart. Anyway, even if the ex-prez does take him up on his generous offer, it will still have turned out to be cheap publicity for the developer’s new venture, since everyone in Kerry has now heard about it. Ballybunion is a place that Clinton knows, having played on its famous golf course a couple of times while in office. In fact, he is so well liked in the town that they actually erected a statue in his honor (or, as it’s called here, honour). At least one of Clinton’s golf dates was as the guest of a prominent Kerry politician named Dick Spring, who is the former leader of Ireland’s Labor (or, as it’s called here, Labour) Party and a former vice-prime minister (or, as it’s called here, Tánaiste). In an unrelated coincidence, Mr. Spring’s name also happens to be the punch line to one of the funniest jokes I have ever heard.

Anyway, the Clinton rumors led to an article in The Sunday Times talking about all the famous people who have homes in Ireland, mainly in the scenic southwest. The actors Jeremy Irons, Terence Stamp, Angela Lansbury and Maureen O’Hara all have homes in west Cork, as does the producer David Putnam. Indeed, Irons lives in a 15th-century castle, for which he has gotten kudos for spending tons of money restoring—and less kind comments from some for painting it a shade of peachy pink. As for the east coast, we learn in The Times’s article that singer/actor/former Mick Jagger squeeze Marianne Faithfull lives in Dublin’s Ballsbridge neighborhood and that actor John Hurt lives in County Wicklow.

Apparently, the rich and famous feel comfortable living in rural Ireland since the locals are good at changing the subject when strangers come to town asking questions. (This may or may not have something to do with the Irish caginess about income sources for tax purposes.) Supposedly, Julia Roberts (who starred in the Irish film Michael Collins) lived unnoticed in west Cork for a while. Another story has it that she retreated to a hotel on Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula upon fleeing the media’s gaze after dumping the hapless Kiefer Sutherland.

I’ve already mentioned in this space accidentally running into the late Oliver Reed’s local pub in Cork. It seems that big name actors and other celebrities are, or have been, everywhere around the Emerald Isle. (This may help explain why the Ring of Kerry road is so jammed with cars in August.) I even remember, in the aftermath of O.J. Simpson’s murder acquittal, the rumors flying that he was going to move to Ireland. Apparently, that was before he decided that he would have better luck finding his ex-wife’s real killer on the golf courses of Florida.

-S.L., 16 August 2001

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