'real character' | 

Irish artist (80s) who lived 'off the grid' in New Zealand dies in house truck fire

The Irishman was described as “a real character” who lived alone in a rural part of New Zealand.

Patrick Gamble

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

A reclusive Irish artist in his 80s has been killed in a house truck fire in a rural part of New Zealand.

Patrick Gamble left Ireland three decades ago and never returned, keeping to himself and living alone out in the bush.

Emergency services were called to his home – a house truck – close to 2am on Friday.

It is understood the cause of the fire was accidental.

The artist is described as a “real character,” a lonely man who mostly kept to himself and was a talented artist.

His friend and fellow artist Svetlana Mickell said she met Gamble when he arrived at her garage sale, where they quickly bonded.

“He popped in every second day and we would talk.” she told Stuff. “He became a close friend.”

"I think he was quite lonely but he was disappointed in the world and people and didn’t want to deal with any bullshit or gossiping so he kept to himself.

"He didn’t usually invite people. I felt privileged. It was like a fairy tale. He lived surrounded by bush. It was nice with lots of unusual stuff.

“I wish I had stayed longer. I told him he needed to open a shop but he said he didn’t want that, he just enjoyed doing his art and kept it all.”

She described the house truck as being full of Gamble’s metal and glass work.

Everyday, she said, the artist would be visited by a little bird who he would care for.

The Irish man never returned to Ireland after he left 30 years ago, confiding in Svetlana that he had no family.

His last words to her were ‘I love you,’ she told Stuff:

“I didn’t know he had a phone. He never called me before. He asked me to send him a little piece of my art and I sent it two weeks ago – I hope he got it.

“It was funny, the last thing he said to me was ‘I love you’, I said ‘I love you too’. He was laughing. When I found out I could not stop crying. He was so nice,” she said.

A local publican described Gamble as a famous Irishman and special local.

"The community is gutted. He was a nice guy. He would come in for a cup of tea and a scone,” Tom Newman told Stuff.

Another said the artist “was a real character” and that “it was a privilege to have met him.”

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