Jeremy Irons – ‘Awakening in the West’ Clip

Jeremy Irons reflects on “just sitting” and giving the mind a rest so we can pass a better time in this life.

This is a preview clip from the documentary feature film (Awakening in the West) coming in 2018 – a StillnessSpeaks production (https://www.stillnessspeaks.com)

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Photos via Christopher Hebard

Jeremy Irons Interviewed for Introspective Magazine

Source

Interior Design

Oscar-Winner Jeremy Irons on His Irish Castle and Antiques Obsession

The actor’s lifelong passion for design and collecting is reflected in his painstakingly renovated 15th-century home.

VanityFair19

Jeremy Irons, with his dog, Smudge, at Kilcoe Castle, in Ireland. Top: Irons and a team of workers spent six years restoring the 15th-century structure, where, he says, they did “everything from scratch.”

First comes the dog. Then, Jeremy Irons appears, filling most of the door frame of the small mews house in West London that serves as his pied-à-terre in the city. “Smudge! It’s a friend,” he calls out. Tall, with an innate physical elegance, Irons looks pretty much as he did when he shot to fame playing the beautiful young painter Charles Ryder in the 1981 British television miniseries Brideshead Revisited, or Claus von Bülow in his Oscar-winning turn in the 1990 Reversal of Fortune. Just a few more lines and sporting a slightly military mustache, grown for the role of James Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, which moves from London’s West End to a run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from May 8 through 27.

His sympathetic portrayal of the family patriarch alongside Lesley Manville in the Richard Eyre–directed production has garnered glowing reviews from the British critics. “It’s a marathon of a play,” Irons says wryly. “You have to keep fresh and interested, but that of course is an attraction.”

Nevertheless, on a chilly London morning in the middle of an eight-performance week, Irons seems happy to turn his attention away from acting and talk about his adult-life passion for decorating and furnishing his homes. (Quite often, as he tells stories of finding a chemist’s balance in Bucharest or a group of carved musicians in Morocco, he gives the impression that he remembers his movies purely for the interesting object-spotting locations they afforded.)

Irons’s London home is, he says, much like his other homes, just smaller. It is filled with color, with cream-of-tomato and blue-green walls and fabric hangings found in Afghanistan, which form a border around the living room cornice, framing rough hessian blinds. An eclectic assortment of furniture, much of it picked up at auctions or found in the street, and walls full of art (some of it by his photographer son, Samuel Irons) create a cheerfully warm and relaxed environment. Does his wife of 40 years, the actress Sinéad Cusack (who arrives home mid-interview), take part in the decorating? Irons thinks for a moment. “Not a lot,” he says. “She doesn’t have the passion I have.”

For nearly two hours, Irons talks to Introspective in fluent paragraphs about that passion, along with his belief that inanimate objects absorb the energy of their environment and about managing the restoration of Kilcoe Castle, his 15th-century home in southwestern Ireland.

Jeremy Irons solar room Kilcoe Castle
The castle’s main living area, known as the Solar, features a life-size wooden horse that Irons found in an antiques shop. The actor says he positioned the horse to “stand and watch the door into the main living room, the way white horses would face the enemy.”

 

Brideshead Revisited Jeremy Irons
In the 1981 British TV miniseries Brideshead Revisited, Irons (at right, with Anthony Andrews and Diana Quick) played a young painter who befriends an aristocrat at Oxford. ©Granada Television/courtesy Everett Collection. Take a look at Irons’s most stylish movies on The Study.

Did you grow up in a family that was interested in art or antiques?

Not really. My dad was an accountant and my mum a housewife who raised us, as was often the case in those days. We lived in a house in St. Helens on the Isle of Wight which was, I think, a converted stable. It was just after the war, and unless you lived in a house that had come down to you over generations, people didn’t really think about furniture and pictures. Ours were pretty ordinary, prints and so on.

I think it was when I started at theater school in Bristol that I first bought some paintings. I picked up about ten, did an exhibition at a framer’s shop and sold them for a modest profit. After that, I found a collection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Playbills and bought the lot. I slowly framed them and sold them. I still have one or two. My drama school fees were paid by my father, but my living wasn’t, so it was a way of generating a little income.

Then, I started going to the auction house in Bristol. It was a wonderful time. I don’t know why, but the antiques business was just flying, and there was so much interesting stuff about. If there was something I loved, I’d buy it and do it up and sometimes sell it. Often chairs — I’ve always been attracted to them.

Why chairs?

Chairs touch the most of you. In beds, you often replace the mattress, but chairs wrap around you, and if my theory — which I stand by — that inanimate objects absorb energy is right, the chair is the most likely piece to do so.

Kilcoe Castle guest room with ceiling woven of willow branches
A guest room features a ceiling made from woven willow branches.

How much restoration of chairs or other pieces do you do yourself, and how did you learn that skill?

I can do a bit, but I’m not a carpenter. If something needs really fine work, I will find someone. But I learned a lot just by doing. Our first house was in Islington. We didn’t have much money, and I bought most of our furniture at auction. Then, we moved to a lovely Victorian house in Hampstead, and I learned to do plumbing and electricity and more serious woodwork. You know, as an actor, you often have the time!

I remember collecting these wonderful tiles that used to be around fireplaces, and I made a little shower room filled with the tiles in that house. I found an old cast-iron range in my brother-in-law’s bookshop on Kensington High Street which I really loved. It smoked, and I experimented with a hardboard cowl to see if I could stop that. It worked, so I had it made in metal. I’m still sad that, when we left the house, I didn’t take it.

Then, we moved to a Regency house in Oxfordshire, where we still live, and I seriously had to look for furniture for that. I found a wonderful auction house in Newcastle and remember having a really good morning there, buying a French screen and wonderful wingback chairs — all of which we still have. I’m attracted to a Georgian aesthetic, and that’s what I was aiming for with the Oxfordshire house. I don’t like the heaviness of Victorian-era stuff.

guest room in Kilcoe Castle
Another guest bedroom contains a canopy bed and hand-painted walls.

Did you hunt for furniture when you were on tour or on location?

Yes, of course. I remember going to Stratford when I was with the Royal Shakespeare Company and living in a lovely house on the River Avon. Next door was a farm and a barn, and the chap who owned it would find furniture and ship it to America. I would keep going in and saying, “No, you’re not sending that.” I bought loads of really useful things there, like small cupboards.

When I was doing a Bristol Old Vic schools tour of the West Country, around fifty years ago, I found an abandoned house, and at the top of the shed were bedposts for two four-poster beds. I brought them back on the train, and when we did the house in Oxfordshire some years later, I gave them to a carpenter and asked him to make a bed with them.

I love going into traditional hardware shops in countries with different histories to us. I bought a mop in Greece made of wood and with looped rope that you can pull up to squeeze out the water. It hangs in our kitchen, and people often can’t work out what it is.

I hunted at home, too. I had an ex-post-office van, and I would stop at every skip [dumpster] and see if there were interesting moldings. I have always been a sniffer out of unconsidered trifles. Once, I discovered that an old house on Hampstead Heath was being pulled down, and there were these hexagonal white Carrara marble tiles with slate joinery that were going to be destroyed. I listened to a radio review of The French Lieutenant’s Woman while chipping them out. I still have them in the conservatory I built. In fact, I haven’t yet used them all.


“If something needs really fine work, I will find someone. But I learned a lot just by doing. . . . You know, as an actor, you often have the time!”


Kilcoe Castle kitchen
A pot rack hangs from exposed beams above the dining table in the cozy kitchen.

I’m not sure how you have found time to have an acting career.

Hah! It’s true that I’m always on it. Sinéad would tell you about us going out to dinner in Paris when I saw a skip near the restaurant. I looked in and saw a nice copper bowl — an old laundry bowl that would sit over a fire. I had exactly the place for it in an outhouse in Oxfordshire! I pulled it out, all greasy and dirty — we were nicely dressed — and I brought it to the restaurant. The lady who takes your coats took it rather gingerly.

What about paintings? Did you collect those too?

Yes, and that was fun, because after a while, I was earning well, and I bought some lovely pictures. I tend to be attracted to paintings done between 1880 and 1930, mainly of women.

Sometimes, I would meet friends in different cities, and we would go looking for paintings and antiques. I remember being at the Marché aux Puces at the Porte de Clignancourt, in Paris, and nearly spitting with rage because it was all so overpriced and uninteresting. Then I saw, leaning against a shop door, an oil painting of a maid sitting at her embroidery. In the background, you could see a little iron single bed and a table with a daffodil in a glass. Her face was wonderfully painted, and she said, “There you are. I’ve been waiting all fucking day!” I knew exactly where it would go. I put it up in our bedroom, and she yelled at me: “Get me out of here, I don’t want to be in this bedroom!” So, I put her in the other place where the light was right, in the sitting room, and she said, “That’s better.” She still sits there now.

Jeremy Irons
Irons says he once salvaged hexagonal white Carrara marble tiles from a house that was set to be torn down, and he later used them in a conservatory he built.

You own a castle in Ireland, which you restored. How did that happen?

Sinéad is Irish, and before the castle, we bought a little cottage in Ireland that was supposed to be a lock-up-and-go kind of place. We really rebuilt it, because it was falling apart. And that was great, because I went out into the Irish countryside and found some wonderful old things — settles and fire surrounds — and did the cottage in indigenous bog-Irish style. I came across a wonderful book about Irish furniture [Irish Country Furniture 1700-1950 by Claudia Kinmonth], and learned a lot from that.

During that time, I knew of the castle, which had been ruined since 1603. I thought, Someone is going to buy it and mess it up. I was getting bored with film work, so I thought, Why not me? It’s a military building, very male, very hard. How could I make this a nice place to be? It was such fun. It gave me opportunities I had never had before with a home.

We did everything from scratch. It took six years, but the first three years was the main stuff: rebuilding walls with a green sandstone I found — after looking through so many quarries — in the Forest of Dean [in Gloucestershire, England]. I drove it in my trailer all the way back to Ireland. Then we cut the windows and repointed the castle to a hand’s depth. Inside, we found that the mortar that had been put there in 1450 was still moist. The walls all the way round the castle were nine feet thick at the bottom.

After the repointing and cleaning, I had people going around almost with magnifying glasses, looking for striations and filling them with lime mortar. It looked absolutely beautiful. Then, we had our first major storm, and the water poured in. I called a mate who is a mortar expert, and he said, “You have to render all the walls with lime mortar.” So, now my green stones are all covered with render, and I needn’t have spent any time on the searching!

bedrooms in Jeremy Irons' castle
Left: A ladder leans against the built-in bunk beds in a guest room. Right: The doorway of the master suite is decorated with art and treasures from Irons’s travels.

 

sitting nook at Kilcoe Castle
The Solar includes this sunny sitting nook, where light streams through the stained-glass windows.

Did you manage everything yourself? Did the restoration process ever feel overwhelming?

No, because it wasn’t a twenty-four-hour-a-day thing. We’d start at seven-thirty in the morning and knock off around five-thirty. It’s a bit like being a film director: If the weather is bad, how do you keep everyone busy and employed? A lot of the workers were musicians, and I told them, “We are doing a jazz riff on the medieval. We have to remember where we are and can play with it.”

I’m quite particular. When they did the castellation, I thought it just didn’t work. I climbed up thirteen floors to tell the guys, and the supervisor said, “The trouble with fucking actors is the rehearsals!”

Did you know what you wanted the interior of the castle to look like?

Originally, I thought I’d repair all the rooms and do the walls, which I wanted to be rough, with all the kinks retained. I had stayed in a ryokan in Japan and loved the way it was so peaceful, with nothing to distract the eye. I thought maybe that’s what I’d do: keep it all glass and modern and empty. But then, I just let it evolve and talk to me as we were working on it. And it evolved into a cluttered interior! There is a sensibility that is the same in all my homes — different objects that I love, a lot of different colors.

I saw the movie Women in Love around 1969, when it came out, and one of the characters lived in a converted barn. I thought, That’s what I would like. And in the back of my mind, that image has always been there when I’ve done a house and collected the furniture.

master bedroom Kilcoe Castle
The master bedroom includes a hanging bed, which Irons commissioned from local craftspeople. The “upturned boat” shape of the room was inspired by the farmhouse where he filmed The Man in the Iron Mask.

How carefully did you plan each room? Or did you just try out different pieces?

A bit of both. Sometimes, I knew exactly where certain things would go, like a life-size wooden horse I found in an antiques shop in Stow-on-the-Wold, in Gloucestershire. It was a lot of money, and we were just starting the castle. So, Brian Hope, who has looked after the Oxfordshire house, and I went for a drink. I said, “If we use the horse as a mold, we could make fiberglass ones for people’s gardens and sell them.” And Brian nodded and said, “Good idea.” Of course, we never made a single one, but it justified the purchase. I knew I’d put him to stand and watch the door into the main living room — the way white horses would face the enemy — and frighten away those who shouldn’t be there.

For our bedroom, which is under the roof, I knew what I wanted from a time when I was filming The Man in the Iron Mask in a farmhouse in Le Mans. There was this room that I loved, like an upturned boat. I went there with Brian, and we took all the dimensions and rebuilt the room like that.

I’d always wanted a hanging bed, and I found local craftspeople to build it and the chests against the wall, which are built on a slant. There is willow work on the back of the bed, around the bath and even on the ceilings which was done by a local woman. So, all of that was quite thought out.

Other things were just serendipitous, things I found while traveling, like paint tins from the Skoda factory in Bucharest that are now lamp bases, or cushions and rugs and fabrics I bought while filming in Nepal.

Jeremy Irons and his dog Smudge ride in a carriage on the property around the castle.
Irons and Smudge ride in a horse-drawn carriage on the property around the castle.

 

Among all these wonderful discoveries, are there particular pieces that mean something special to you in any of your homes?

It’s difficult to choose, but there is one barrel-backed armchair I bought in Bristol. It’s probably Georgian, like a wing chair but with a rounded back covered in panels. Under the seat there was a commode, which I did away with when I got it reupholstered. It’s in my bedroom in the country, and it’s lovely to sit there with a cup of tea and look out of the window and think about the day.

https://www.1stdibs.com/introspective-magazine/jeremy-irons/

 

 

Jeremy Irons in Vanity Fair – October 2017

Jeremy Irons is featured in the October 2017 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, in an article by David Kamp, with photos by Simon Upton.

Scroll down to read the article and view all of the images…

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Click on the thumbnails to view the full-sized images:

 

 

Jeremy Irons – Daily Mail Article 11 March 2016

Original article HERE

‘I’m a rogue and a vagabond’: Hollywood’s brought Jeremy Irons huge riches and homes around the world, but here he tells why he’d never live there

  • Jeremy Irons says that his feet are firmly rooted in England and Ireland 
  • Says that Europeans should consider themselves lucky to live in Europe 
  • Here he explains why he has also deterred his son from Hollywood 

Sitting in the Hollywood hotel where we meet on one of his rare trips to LA, Jeremy Irons is telling me he sometimes works for nothing.

A couple of years ago he was bemoaning the fact that he never gets to make independent British movies to his producer friend Jeremy Thomas, who made the thriller Sexy Beast, and Thomas told him the reason was that he was too expensive.

‘I said, “That’s rubbish, because I’ll actually work for nothing if I want to,”’ recalls Irons. ‘So he sent me a script of a film he was producing, which I liked and which had a fairly young director, and I thought, “Right – I’ll do that one!”’

Despite having earned his fame and fortune in Hollywood Jeremy Irons (pictured in his Irish castle) says he is firmly rooted to England and Ireland and says Europeans are incredibly lucky to be in Europe

Despite having earned his fame and fortune in Hollywood Jeremy Irons (pictured in his Irish castle) says he is firmly rooted to England and Ireland and says Europeans are incredibly lucky to be in Europe

The result is his role as Anthony Royal in High-Rise, a darkly comic dystopian tale based on the 1975 novel of that name by JG Ballard. The film is set in a 50-storey block of flats that segregates the residents floor by floor according to their affluence.

Royal, the architect who designed the block, lives in the penthouse at the top with his wife, played by Keeley Hawes, while new resident Dr Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) lives on the 27th floor. Life seems idyllic until those lower down the food chain revolt and all hell breaks loose.

Jeremy Thomas has been trying to get the film made for 30 years. It was first shown at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where it won rave reviews for its style and originality; it’s also been criticised for the same elements, as well as its lashings of sex and violence and its pessimistic outlook on life.

‘Some people love it, some hate it,’ says Irons. ‘But it’s an interesting script and it was interesting to make. That’s good enough for me!’

Jeremy  with his wife Sinead and son Max

It’s 35 years since the young Jeremy Irons, until then best known for playing John the Baptist to David Essex’s Jesus in musical Godspell in 1971, shot to fame: in 1981 he appeared as the idealistic Charles Ryder in the acclaimed TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited just after the release of his first big film, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which also starred Meryl Streep.

He went on to make such memorable movies as Dead Ringers, Damage and Lolita.

Now 67, he’s still one of the hardest-working actors in the business, juggling smaller projects he does for pleasure with larger ones, such as this year’s Assassin’s Creed, an action-adventure movie based on the hit video game series, and the much-awaited Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. It’s these crowd-pleasers, he admits, that make the smaller projects possible.

‘I like a mix,’ he says. ‘I’m not going to turn down Batman v Superman when I get the chance, although I’m not a great fan of that sort of film because I don’t get much of a buzz out of special effects. Assassin’s Creed is based on a game, but I think it stands up well as a movie and possibly there’ll be more.

Michael Fassbender, who stars in it, is lovely to work with. And these movies pay well so one can afford to do smaller pictures too.’

He peers through the hotel window at the reliably azure California sky. ‘That’s one reason I don’t live here in Los Angeles,’ he says, ‘because the weather is normally the same.

In England you never know what you’re going to be greeted with as you draw the curtains in the morning, and I love that.’

He certainly looks the quintessential English gentleman today, elegant in an open-necked white shirt under an impeccably cut grey suit, his hair swept theatrically back, a signet ring glinting on his left little finger; quite refreshingly in the land of blinding white gnashers, his teeth are unapologetically yellowed from the cigarettes he says he has no intention of giving up.

‘Nor, he states firmly, does he have any intention of following the current drain of British actors to the Hollywood Hills.

‘I think we Europeans are hugely privileged to be European,’ he says. ‘I mean, I love visiting this city, but my life in England and Ireland is so much more textured than anything I could have here.

‘Just the food, the countryside, the ability to go sailing or riding without any hassle. I think England and Ireland are two of the most wonderful places on the face of the earth.’

 I think England and Ireland are two of the most wonderful places on the face of the earth.

Which is all very well, but what about work opportunities? ‘Aeroplanes are quite quick these days,’ he shrugs. ‘My wife and I did think about moving here once, when we were both doing plays in New York.’

In 1984 and 1985 he was appearing on Broadway in Tom Stoppard’s play The Real Thing, for which he won a Tony award, while his wife Sinead Cusack was receiving a Tony nomination for her Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.

‘We did think we’d probably get richer if we lived in this country, and maybe have more successful careers. But then I thought, “No, I’d be giving up my roots.” I’m a gardener and know that some plants just do well in a certain place. If you dig them up and plant them in a different corner, they may not do as well. So I thought I’d stay where I was.’

Besides, he adds a little slyly, he’d seen what happened to his Brideshead Revisited co-star Anthony Andrews.

‘When that show finished I stayed in England and didn’t work for a year, then did the film Moonlighting, which was quite successful.

‘My colleague went to Los Angeles and rented a house with his family, and for all the time he was there I think he did four episodes of The Love Boat and that was all. He came home after a year! So I thought, “You know, I think I’m best in Europe.”’

His decision seems to have served him well. He’s reputed to have seven homes dotted around the globe, most notably his Grade II-listed house in Watlington, Oxfordshire, where, according to his son Max, he used to ride around the countryside in a horse and cart, and Kilcoe Castle, in County Cork, which he painted a peach colour, thereby scandalising the locals, and where, he tells me happily, ‘sometimes I don’t hear anything but the wind’.

Jeremy Irons pictured as Charles Ryder, in the ITV adaptation of the novel by Evelyn Waugh

When he fancies a bit of culture he pops up to Dublin where he and Sinead have a home in the exclusive Liberties area. Not bad for the son of an accountant from the Isle of Wight.

‘I live very simply,’ he says. ‘We actors are rogues and vagabonds and when I’m not telling my stories, that is how I live.

‘I sail my boats with people who sail boats, I ride my horses with people who ride horses, and in the evenings I tend to have a bit of company, but I sit at the back of the gathering.

‘I sing my songs, play my fiddle, and I’m just very happy to be out of the focus of the public eye.’

He says he doesn’t really care for possessions – much. ‘Sometimes I look as if I collect things, but I don’t really, I just don’t throw things away. I’m quite loyal to my things, actually. There was a period when I’d buy paintings I loved, but not in any sort of investment way; it was just that every time I did a movie and made some money I’d buy a painting.

‘And then my walls got full and I started buying bits of sculpture, and now I have about 15 pieces, all of them quite romantic. But I’m getting to the age where I begin to think I should start getting rid of some of these things, because I feel I’ve accumulated too much.

 We actors are rogues and vagabonds and when I’m not telling my stories, that is how I live

‘And then I think, “No, I can’t get rid of that one because it reminds me of that time…” But I’m glad my children are now buying their own property because I can hand furniture and pictures on to them.’

Although his marriage to Sinead has been plagued with rumours of infidelity – a subject he’s never keen to discuss publicly, although he did say to me once, ‘I’m a great believer in marriage, it’s a structure that’s hard to get out of and I think it should be that way’ – there’s never been a doubt he’s an affectionate father to sons Sam, 37, a respected photographer, and Max, 30, an actor known for films The Riot Club and Woman In Gold and TV series The White Queen.

He reflects, ‘I suppose there’s nothing more important than your children, even though it’s a rather strange relationship in that they aren’t actually your children at all. They’re people with their own lives, their own souls, their own spirits, who happen to have been growing up in your house.

‘I’m not a particularly hands-on father in that a lot of fathers put huge pressure on their children to become the people they would have liked to have become, and I don’t do that. I remember my elder son once saying to my wife, “Would you and Dad mind if I never became rich and successful?”

‘I said, “What is success? Success is going to bed at the end of the day and sleeping with a clear heart and a clear conscience. That’s the only success we want for you.”’

He does admit, however, that he worries about Max’s choice of career. ‘I don’t think I’d go into the business now if I was Max’s age.

‘It was much easier when I started because we had a wonderful network of repertory theatres which gave actors a huge breeding ground to go and train in.

‘These days young actors don’t have that. They all look for the big TV series where they get made famous very quickly and then spat out after two or three years.

‘One hopes that a child you have brought up has a certain sense, and Max does seem to have it – and he’s also quite good. But it’s still true the business can eat you up, especially if you’re a beautiful young man as Max is. I told him not to be an actor, but he’s enjoying it at the moment, so we’ll see.’

It’s fair to say that ‘beautiful’ would not be the first word you’d attach to Jeremy. The one thing he does have going for him, he agrees ruefully, is that he’s kept his figure. ‘I just have the genes, I think – my mum was very slim, and I have a fast metabolism, as she did. And, of course, I smoke, which reduces my appetite. But mostly, I think, I’m just lucky.’

He pats his grey suit. ‘Strangely enough, I had this made for Damage.’ He smiles, remembering the 1992 erotic drama in which he and Juliette Binoche sizzled on the screen. ‘And it still fits. It’s a little tight in the waist, but it’s all right, I can cope with that.’

He thinks about it, and nods. ‘I’m just fortunate, I think.’

High-Rise is in cinemas nationwide from Friday.

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Jeremy Irons on LIVE with Kelly and Michael

Jeremy Irons was a guest on LIVE with Kelly and Michael, on Friday 19 February 2016.

 

Here’s the clip from the film which was shown:

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Jeremy Irons in the Sunday Business Post

Jeremy Irons was interviewed by Nadine O’Regan for the Sunday Business Post.  Photos by John Allen.

The issue came out on Sunday 30 August 2015. It is available to purchase and download from http://www.businesspost.ie/

From Nadine O’Regan’s Instagram account @nadineoregan :

“I went home to West Cork a little while back for my holidays and, while there, wound up getting an interview with Oscar winner Jeremy Irons, who lives in an ochre-coloured castle just outside Skibbereen. We talked Hollywood, West Cork and castle restoration, and he made me a very nice lunch:-) It’s the cover of The Sunday Business Post Magazine tomorrow if you fancy a read. x.”

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Jeremy Irons on Creedon’s Wild Atlantic Way

Jeremy Irons was a part of the new RTE Television series Creedon’s Wild Atlantic Way. 

Here’s a clip:

Photo via @johncreedon on Twitter

Photo via @johncreedon on Twitter

Photo via @johncreedon on Twitter

Photo via @johncreedon on Twitter

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Jeremy Irons Attends International Women’s Day Luncheon in Limerick

Jeremy Irons was in attendance at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare, Co. Limerick, Ireland, for an International Women’s Day Luncheon, on Friday 6 March 2015. Jeremy has been a patron of The Hope Foundation for many years.

London based actress, author and businesswoman Fiona Fullerton joined Hope Founder and Hon. Director Maureen Forrest and managing director of JJ’O Toole Ltd. Vicki O’Toole, as guest speakers at the event.

Jeremy auctioned off a tea party, hosted by himself, at Kilcoe Castle, for 3,250, to benefit The Hope Foundation.

A very special THANK YOU to Keith Wiseman for sharing his gorgeous, professional images from the event!  To see more of Keith’s work, please visit his website  http://www.kwisemanphoto.ie/   and social media: @kwisemanphoto on Twitter and Instagram.

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Jeremy Irons Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

Jeremy Irons was nominated to take the Ice Bucket Challenge by Maureen Forrest, of The Hope Foundation. The Ice Bucket Challenge supports awareness and raises funds for ALS and the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

He completed the challenge, from the rooftop of Kilcoe Castle. Jeremy has also nominated his neighbour, actor and writer, Rob Heyland; his sister-in-law Niamh Cusack; and his youngest son Max Irons.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

To learn more about The Hope Foundation visit their website.

To support the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) text 50300 to MND (in Ireland) or visit THIS SITE.

To support the #ALSIceBucketChallenge in the United States click HERE.

Jeremy Irons in Limerick for Kilcoe Castle Presentation

Jeremy Irons was at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick, Ireland on Saturday 10 May 2014, to give a presentation on his restoration of Kilcoe Castle.  The event was part of the Irish Georgian Society and Limerick City and County Council’s traditional building skills exhibition at The Hunt Museum. Jeremy’s talk was originally scheduled to take place at The Hunt Museum but, due to the large number wanting to attend, the talk was moved to St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Scroll down to read two first-hand accounts of Jeremy’s presentation.

The best of Jeremy Irons in Limerick – from Limerick Today

Thank you very much to Garry Irwin, David Morrissey, Kate O’Shea, Kate McLoughney, the Irish Georgian Society, The Hunt Museum, RumpusX, Emma Gilleece, Dr. Ursula Callaghan, David Sheehan, Deirdre Power, Tom Cassidy and all those who took the photos you see here. Scroll to the bottom for the gallery of individual photos and click on the thumbnails for enlargements.

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The following account is by Garry Irwin

Jeremy Irons Talk – 10/05/2014 – St. Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick

Despite the terrible weather in Limerick that day, a good crowd was gathering around the cathedral in the lead up to the Jeremy Irons talk at noon.

The talk was due to be given in the Hunt Museum, but seeing as its biggest room holds about fifty people at a push, it was moved across the bridge to the 12th Century church, which accommodated the, I’m guessing, near two hundred people who braved the elements that day. Jeremy did say that if you thought the weather was bad here, you should have been in West Cork that morning! While some people did mention that they had come from even further afield to catch his talk that afternoon.

The presentation was to be a series of photographs detailing the restoration of the 15th Century Kilcoe Castle, but some technical gremlins saw to it that things did not go smoothly. So before it began proper, Jeremy said he would talk about how he came into possession of the castle. But before he even did that, he beckoned everybody at the back to fill seats at the front. He was miked up but still didn’t want it to feel like he was giving a formal lecture. So what did he do? He shot off to the side aisles of the church and started carrying chairs to the front of the nave, nearer where the screen was positioned. After doing this a number of times, people eventually helped him until all the chairs were in the middle aisle of the church. This may have annoyed those who had gone to the trouble of reserving their seats at the front! Then just as all the chairs were repositioned, Jeremy stood up and said, ‘seeing as we are in such a setting, I think it right that the last shall be first and the first shall be last’, before gesturing for those at the back to come fill the remaining seats. During the talk, Jeremy constantly moved up and down the centre aisle, so no-one was left out and everyone could hear him.

Jeremy gave a brief history of the castle, before telling the story of how it came into his possession. He got someone else to buy it for him, for fear the price would be jacked up if his name was attached to the purchase. Eventually the screen was working and the talk could begin, but unfortunately the pictures were not in order and Jeremy would have to prompt an unseen figure from behind the screen in order to move from one slide to the next, but this didn’t hamper the talk in any way.

He admitted that at the outset of the restoration he didn’t have a clue as to what would be required, how long it would take, or what the cost would be, but he did say that it ended up not unlike what would be needed on a film set, where lots of different moving parts come together for a single end goal.

Jeremy breezed through photograph after photograph, delighting in elucidating on each aspect of the restoration. Every time someone appeared in a picture Jeremy would go into who they were, where they came from, and what they did on site. It was very rare that someone popped up in a picture and he did not seem to know everything about them.

It seemed that during the restoration a wide range of people came onto the island where Kilcoe Castle is situated. Wandering German artists, French masonry students, local farmers driving ancient tractors, cranes brought in from Paris, wooden beams from English forests, woodworkers, metalworkers, electricians, sailors, and even musicians. All became part of the workforce, which itself became one big family during the six years of the restoration. At the beginning he said he was handing out brown envelopes for work done at the end of the week, but by the end he was one of the biggest employers in the local area and was giving out redundancies to people when the work was eventually finished.

While the large crowd was always attentive during the two hours of the talk, a number of tales went down well with those in the cathedral. Jeremy needed to get a number of large furniture items into the castle, and the only way to do this was through a gap in the roof at the very top. So they all had to be hoisted up and then carefully lowered into the building. The usual array of furniture was shown being brought up, and then they were shown inside where they were to be used. Sofas, a piano, and a life-size horse?

Someone in the audience had to ask, what was the story with the horse? So Jeremy went on to explain how he passed an antique shop and just knew he had to take the horse away. So after furiously rapping on the front of the shop until the owner appeared, the shop was closed, he asked how much it would be to take the horse of the owner’s hands? He was slightly taken aback by the figure that was he was given. So Jeremy and his friend (whose name I unfortunately can’t remember) went for a bit of a liquid lunch to mull it over. They eventually reasoned that they could use the horse as a mould, and after they had sold copies of this horse mould to people to put in their gardens or wherever, they would then surely make the money back with interest. So the horse was bought, but as of yet, hasn’t made them any money.

Another time Jeremy had been continuing his research, so as to aide the restoration in being as accurate as possible. One day as he looked up at his castle, he realised that the castellation was wrong. The castellation is the defensive parapets ringing the roof of the castle. He knew it would be something he could not unsee every time he looked upon it, so it would have to be changed. Jeremy’s wife said that was fine, but he would have to be the one to break it to the workers. So up he went to the finished roof were the workers were and told them that it would have to be redone. One of the workers commented, ‘the thing I hate about you actors, is your need for —– rehearsals.’ Jeremy never revealed the swearword that was used.

Lots of other little stories and asides were given. How Jeremy’s dog would often somehow climb up thirteen flights of scaffolding to join him at the top of the building. Or the time a worker (name escapes me again) decided to tell him that he was quitting after working there for years. Jeremy was surprised, and they organised to have a big session to give him a good send off. Come Monday morning though, he was back on site working. Jeremy went up to him and asked, ‘I thought you left?’, ‘I was only trying to see if I could get a pay rise out of you’, was the reply.

Jeremy also talked of how he was not a fan of some of the reporting that was done during the time of the restoration. How he had refused to talk to reporters about it while it was ongoing, yet they still found something to write about. He was not impressed when the castle was coined as his ‘pink erection.’ Two reasons; his is not nearly as impressive! Nor is the castle painted pink. He prefers to see it as a shade of ochre, and he ended the talk on a picture of the impressive fully restored castle and a lengthy round of applause from the appreciative audience.

After the talk, Jeremy took a number of questions from the crowd; he was asked about how the castle held up during the recent stormy weather; what help, if any, did he receive from the Irish government during the restoration. Here he went into his feelings about the bungling red tape and laws which do not engender a sense of historical understanding. How Ireland has so many worthy sites, but they are left in their state of ruin. As the clock ticked past two, Jeremy ducked outside for a quick cigarette as people lined up to give him a short word of thanks or to get a photograph with the star.

Jeremy Irons was giving a talk for the Irish Georgian Society, who were hosting a weekend of conservation and education awareness to do with Ireland’s architectural heritage. This was in association with the Hunt Museum, and the talk was held in Limerick’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Garry Irwin
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The following account is by David Morrissey:

Refurbishment of Kilcoe Castle
When: Saturday May 10th 2014 12pm-2pm
Where: St. Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick city.
Organiser: Irish Georgian Society I.G.S.
Admission: Free
Speaker: Jeremy Irons

A crowd of around a hundred people attended the amazing St. Mary’s cathedral in Limerick City for this exciting and in-depth account of Jeremy Irons’ complete refurbishment of his West Cork home, Kilcoe Castle. This presentation began in bizarre circumstances with a plethora of technical and seating issues to be ironed out before Jeremy could begin his detailed slide-show. With the waiting crowd assembled within the church, Jeremy entered the cathedral with great enthusiasm and vigour. Immediately he began to re-arrange the seating, constantly wanting to make the entire presentation less formal and more personal for everybody involved. He went to great lengths bringing anybody at the back of the congregation up to the front and filled up any available space so nobody would miss out. He also wanted to disband his microphone which he felt was hindering his communication but we convinced him otherwise so he continued with a less bulky headset microphone. After tweaking some technical issues with the laptop and projector finally the photographic extravaganza got underway.

Jeremy proceeded to tell us the history of the castle from its construction in 1450 through to the unsuccessful British attack on Kilcoe in the 1600’s and the transfer of ownership from local farmer James Caverly to Edward Samuel who eventually sold it to Mr. Irons. The presentation entailed a slide show of roughly 75-100 photos taken by Jeremy and with each slide he gave us a detailed narrative of the refurbishment process. The Oscar winning actor spoke with such energy and vitality about this project that he would stop on occasion reminiscing about certain people or characters who toiled on the castle. He rented a nearby field from a local farmer to create a storage yard for the scaffolding he bought, the crane he bought, and all the other necessary machinery he bought. Which the farmer only asked for ‘peanuts’ as payment as he said himself. He continued with many stories that only he would know.

For instance he told us that one day he gathered every worker on site and brought them to the top of the castle where he got the local Catholic priest to bless the project because he said if anybody got hurt during its refurbishment that it would tarnish his future home and diminish his love for the archaic building.

His passion for this project was amazing as he put astonishing detail into each phase of the construction process. Jeremy bought old steel cart wheels to straighten and make door hinges, he bought Irish oak timber which had been culled in the nearby Fota island forest to hand cut into load bearing joists and beams for the roof. He had every stone of the old castle power washed and re-pointed with mortar to a hands’ depth, he employed two beret-wearing French stone masons to cut arched windows from solid pieces of limestone. He explained his problems with eradicating dampness and his fixation with letting a building ‘breathe’.

A German man and woman wandered into Kilcoe Castle looking for some work, the woman a stone carver and her partner a carpenter who were part of a craftsman guild society looking to earn their way around Europe. Jeremy obliged and gave them board and accommodation along with a weekly wage, the woman carved a detailed head of the virgin Mary which Jeremy mounted on the east side of the castle. He explained that Catholic churches place the altar always situated at the east end of a church so it was only right that he mounted the bust of the virgin Mary on east facing side of Kilcoe.

To complete the refurbishment he bought items from an array of local and international sellers, bedroom pillows and lamps from India, quality floor rugs from Morocco some quarried stone and timber from England, the list is endless but Jeremy can recall each item and where it was bought.

This presentation was extraordinary in its opportunity to see Jeremy in full flow of passion for something he holds so dearly. His booming English voice and charismatic descriptive words along with his animated hand gestures gave us all wanting more after the minuscule two hours.

Question time afterwards gave some surprising results with the Oscar winner telling us that he received no grant from the Irish government and his disappointment with the poor system in Ireland for protection and restoration of ancient ruins.

Jeremy was very nice to pose for photographs after the presentation having a quiet word with each person.

A great event from the Irish Georgian society.

David Morrissey
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