‘Die Hard’ star Jeremy Irons might seem like the quintessential Englishman but his wife is Irish, his own family has deep roots in County Cork and it is in that same county that he saved a 15th century Irish castle from ruin.
The Irish countryside is populated by ruins: the ivy slowly strangles the ancient stonework, the wind long ago blew away the roof away and the floors bloom green in the spring.
It’s however rare for a castle to gently crumble into dereliction, such a fate is usually reserved for the small cottages of the poor not the fabulously wealthy gentry.
But that was exactly what was happening to Kilcoe Castle at the southern extremity of Co Cork near the town of Skibbereen and that was when Irons bought it twenty years ago.
Fun fact, this is Jeremy Irons's humble abode, a cosy little castle, that we happened to come across. pic.twitter.com/hbaIVWkVE1— Cian Allner (@CianAllner) September 8, 2017
Once the home of Clan chieftain Dermot MacCarthy, the twins towers dominate the local skyline and are now the property of Jeremy Irons - a man who burst on the international scene in that most English of TV series, ‘Brideshead Revisited’.
“I remember the very first night I spent here on my own,” he told Vanity Fair in a recent interview.
“It’s a very interesting building, because it’s very male and erect: a phallus. And yet, within, it’s a womb. Very strange like that. And I thought, I’m completely protected. I’m away from everything. It’s a wonderful feeling. And that’s what it gives me.”
It’s safe to say he’s made a few changes; he bought the Kilcoe in 1996 and, after a blessing by a priest, spent six years and a reported $1.3 million doing it up.
The castle had neither roof nor peach colored walls but it was soon to get both.
Some things have remained untouched since the Medieval Ages when the castle was built; the slits in the staircase, for instance, were used prevent invaders trying to overrun the castles.
The intercom he uses to summon guests to breakfast is a more modern installation.
The finished product, he says, is the result of income from several films and director Hugh Hudson told him after inspecting his home that it was worth 20 films.
He’s lived in Ireland since the 1980’s and is in an almost laughable away “Níos Gaelaí ná na Gaeil féin” - an ancient Irish proverb used to describe Norman settlers who became “More Irish than the Irish themselves”.
He drives a horse and carriage, learnt to play the fiddle and has expressed a fondness for the Catholic Church.
Well, nobody told me that Jeremy Irons is living my dream life in his castle. Speechless. pic.twitter.com/4IcEH7UMEP— Juan M. Gonzalez (@juanmgc) September 21, 2017
"I felt I had come home when I first came here 20 years ago. I know a lot of English and Europeans feel the same about Ireland, but not all of them last the course. Some find they can't take the weather or the lack of a real work ethic -- people here work to live, not live to work - but I love it."