Once upon a time Luggala was my home away from home. Within it’s walls I lived a fairytale existence far beyond anything my own imagination could have conjured. While my weeks were filled with the ravages of divorce, my weekends were spent surrounded by natures splendor, immersed in creative energy of every kind thanks to the Hon. Garech Browne who gave me sanctuary, friendship, and many belly aches from laughter. I must have been really, really good in another lifetime to deserve that kind of friendship and good fortune.

Tatjana Rhodes and Dumbo at Luggala

Garech, his beautiful mother Oonagh with whom I once planted a medlar fruit tree, and Luggala will always hold a huge chunk of my heart. It comes as no surprise that Luggala Days by Robert O’Byrne will be top of my Christmas wish list this year. The book comes out this Thursday (ahem, Miss Tatjana).

Garech Browne and Julie Anne Rhodes

Now I can cherish more than just my own magnificent memories there – “Explore the unique beauty of Ireland’s most fascinating house Hidden inside a secluded Irish valley lies Luggala, an exquisite eighteenth-century house at the centre of a 5,000-acre estate. In 1937 Ernest Guinness presented Luggala to his youngest daughter, Oonagh – one of the three famous ‘Golden Guinness Girls’ – following her marriage to the fourth

Baron Oranmore and Browne. Oonagh described Luggala as ‘the most decorative honey pot in Ireland’ and made it the centre of a dazzling social world that included peers, painters and poets, journalists and junkies, scholars and socialites. In the late 1960s she passed the estate to her son, the Hon Garech Browne, founder of Claddagh Records, who has not only maintained but surpassed his mother’s gifts both for hospitality and for bringing together a wide range of creative talents. Luggala Days celebrates both the unique beauty of this place and the many celebrated names irresistibly drawn there, from writers like Brendan Behan, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, to actors and directors such as John Hurt, Daniel Day-Lewis and John Boorman, and above all musicians, including The Chieftains, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, Bono and Michael Jackson. All of them have succumbed to the enchantment of days passed at Luggala.”

I’ll leave you with a glimpse into the inner sanctum of Garech’s world by John Boorman and John Hurt. Oh, how I long for County Wicklow and Luggala again.

PS. It seems fitting that my old home away from home should be the first blog post appearing on my new cyber home! We are still working through the bugs, so please do let me know if you notice anything askew.

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