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6 things Michael Jackson loved about Ireland

Cork and Westmeath were his favourites, and Ray the taxi driver.

THIS MONTH MARKS 30 years since Michael Jackson’s hit Billie Jean made it to the big time.

It’s also 25 years since he brought his Bad world tour to Pairc Uí Chaoimh in Cork.

Between 1988 and his death in 2009, Jackson visited Ireland many more times, often to play live, but several times to enjoy the seclusion and privacy afforded to him and his family.

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s 6 things the King of Pop loved about Ireland…

1. Cork

Michael’s brother Jermaine Jackson appeared on the Late Late Show a couple of years back and said that he had loved spending time in Cork.

Following his aquittal in a child abuse case in 2005, Jackson sought solace in Cork, travelling there in 2006 and staying in Blackwater Castle.

He returned in Summer 2007 spending time at  Ballinacurra House near Kinsale. It’s reported that he was planning to buy an estate in Cork as a getaway for his family.

YouTube/mjspyt

2. Grouse Lodge and Coolatore House

Jackson and his family spent five months in Westmeath in 2007, recording music and enjoying the countryside seclusion.

Grouse Lodge features a recording studio (Radiohead and REM are amongst the bands who’ve worked there), while Coolatore House across the road provided the lodgings for the family (there’s even a bar, karoke room and table tennis room in the basement).

Michael Jackson’s signature in the guest book, which now hangs in the kitchen of Coolatore House. (Abi Skipp/Flickr/Creative Commons)

3. His kids playing with the local kids

At both Grouse Lodge and Ballinacurra House Michael Jackson’s children Paris, Blanket and Prince played with the children of the owners of both residences.

Image: Ballincurra.com

4. Ray from Ray’s Taxi Hire

When the Jackson family lived in Westmeath, they didn’t bring their own vehicle with them, so Ray from Ray’s Taxi Hire was drafted in by Grouse Lodge owners Paddy and Clare Dunning to drive them around.

In this video (from 4.24) Ray explains how he spent the next few months as Michael’s driver, doing messages, picking people up and driving the family around:

YouTube/Guardian Music

5. Inviting people to stay with him

Will. I . Am from the Black Eyed Peas was among the musicians and  producers summoned to Westmeath in 2007 to help Michael work on new music.

Michael Jackson, Will.I.Am. and Access Hollywood interviewer Billy Bush at Grouse Lodge (YouTube/MJJFEurope)

6. Bowling

During his stay in Ireland, Michael Jackson and his family went bowling in Cosmic Bowl in Tullamore Adventure Centre.

Obviously nobody else’s feet were allowed to be placed inside Jacko’s shoes after he wore them. Instead, they had them framed.

Abi Skipp/Flickr/Creative Commons

From the photo archives: St Patrick’s Day 1954>

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About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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