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Rocker’s retreat Legendary guitarist Rory Gallagher’s former home in Kinsale is on the market for €995k

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Castlecove House, Kinsale, Co Cork

Castlecove House, Kinsale, Co Cork

Louise McKeon with one of her paintings

Louise McKeon with one of her paintings

The upstairs living room

The upstairs living room

The hallway

The hallway

The downstairs living room with stove

The downstairs living room with stove

The kitchen

The kitchen

One of the four bedrooms

One of the four bedrooms

Another one of the bedrooms

Another one of the bedrooms

The dining room

The dining room

The home gym

The home gym

The view across the Bandon estuary from the house which stands on six acres of grounds and gardens

The view across the Bandon estuary from the house which stands on six acres of grounds and gardens

Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher

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Castlecove House, Kinsale, Co Cork

Castlecove house, Kinsale, Co Cork Asking price: €995,000 Agent: Sherry Fitzgerald Country Homes (01) 237 6402; Sheehy Brothers (021) 4772338

WHEN Rory Gallagher sold his waterfront Kinsale home to artist Louise McKeon in 1984, he left his cowboy boots and toothbrush behind.

“I was always a huge Rory fan. I was only told it was his house by the estate agent as I was viewing it,” says McKeon.

“I did my college years in Belfast and we used to go and see him all the time. Rory was the only big artist who played Belfast during the Troubles and Belfast loved him for it. They were great gigs.

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Louise McKeon with one of her paintings

Louise McKeon with one of her paintings

Louise McKeon with one of her paintings

“When I bought Castlecove the rooms were painted orange and vermilion green. It was very neat and tidy. And the boots and the toothbrush were there when we moved in.”

It was at Castlecove House, looking out over the Bandon estuary on a six acre waterfront site with woodlands, that the restless bluesman, who sang songs such as Tattooed Lady, What’s Going On?, Laundromat and A Million Miles Away, seemed to find peace.

“The peace and quiet is actually why I love it so much,” says McKeon. “It’s an amazing place.”

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The view across the Bandon estuary from the house which stands on six acres of grounds and gardens

The view across the Bandon estuary from the house which stands on six acres of grounds and gardens

The view across the Bandon estuary from the house which stands on six acres of grounds and gardens

Ballyshannon-born Gallagher, who sold 30 million albums, is today ranked among the all-time greatest guitarists. His trademark sweat scorched 1961 sunburst Fender Stratocaster, paid for in instalments from Crowleys in Cork City when he was 15, is today one of the planet’s most recognised guitars.

Gallagher mythology maintains that Jimi Hendrix was asked what it felt like to be the greatest guitarist in the world only to reply: “I don’t know, go ask Rory Gallagher.”

While never verified, lead guitarists who cite Gallagher as a big influence include Eric Clapton, Brian May, Slash, The Edge, Johnny Marr and James Dean Bradfield. Clapton said it was Gallagher who brought him back to the blues.

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Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher

Queen guitarist May was particularly taken by The Taste frontman’s humility:

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“We were boys. We hung around and hid when the Marquee (club in London) was at turning out time. And then we kind of strolled over as if we ought to be there and said: “Hello Mr Gallagher can we chat to you? I asked ‘how do you get that sound?’ And he said, ‘I have this little amp, an AC30 amp and I have this little treble booster, a Rangemaster treble booster’.

"Of course I went straight out and got an AC30 Amp and the treble booster. It was Rory that gave me my sound. And I also learned from him, ‘don’t be an ass’.”

Gallagher’s visceral but technically intense style with blistering slide work saw him take the stage at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival where he played to 600,000, alongside the Doors, the Who, Dylan and Hendrix.

In 1975 he was invited to join the Rolling Stones when Mick Taylor walked out. Unable to get anything out of a comatose Keith Richards after flying to London, Gallagher left to tour in Japan instead.

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The upstairs living room

The upstairs living room

The upstairs living room

The shy performer was a perfectionist who gave himself a hard time and he struggled to find peace of mind. “My dream would be to be fit and healthy at 65 and still playing. But that’s asking too much of the man upstairs, it really is.” In another interview he stated: “I’d rather go crazy on the road than off it. Because it’s one or the other.”

He died aged 47 in 1995 following liver failure caused by mixing prescription drugs and booze. Today he has four streets (Paris, Dublin, Bedoin (France) and Cork) named after him and statues in Cork and Ballyshannon.

But Gallagher did find peace it seems in his years at Castlecove. “My brother in law met his brother in Japan one time. He told him that Rory really, really regretted selling the house,” says Louise McKeon.

Originally from Dublin’s Raheny, McKeon raised her three girls in Castlecove and they’re now in their twenties and thirties. “If you want your kids to come back home again and again, make your home in Kinsale.

"They always miss the place so much and they always come back,” she says. “They were constantly around the water, swimming and boating. They played tennis, GAA, rugby. I love walking. It’s wonderful for walking.”

Castlecove has its own private slipway and 400 metres of paths with viewing benches dotted throughout its six acres.

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The downstairs living room with stove

The downstairs living room with stove

The downstairs living room with stove

McKeon is a well known artist and ran a gallery and an art school at Castlecove. “The surroundings are just right,” she says. In lockdown she took a masters degree and is now planning to diversify into children’s books.

When they bought the house it was single storey. So in the late 1990s they added another floor to enhance those incredible views, added a conservatory and reconfigured the design so the main rooms are upstairs looking out across the estuary.

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The dining room

The dining room

The dining room

“From that big upstairs window you can see it all. The seals are always here. A few times a year you see schools of dolphins, otters and there’s the fishing boats. As an artist in lockdown I was blessed to be here. The landscape constantly changes. The water falls right back at low tide. At this time of year the sunsets are just incredible.”

The kitchen has water views through a sliding patio door. It has a black granite countertop, a Belling fridge, De Dietrich electric oven and a peninsula breakfast bar with a gas hob. There’s a living area with a wood burning stove.

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The kitchen

The kitchen

The kitchen

Next is the dining room with its patio door to the garden. There’s the conservatory looking over the gardens.

The big upstairs living room space has a huge arched window overlooking the Bandon estuary and Compass Hill.

The master bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe and an en suite as well as a patio door that leads to a patio and from there to the water. There are three more bedrooms, a family bathroom, utility room, home office and a sun room.

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One of the four bedrooms

One of the four bedrooms

One of the four bedrooms

It’s a 20 minute walk from scenic Kinsale with its famous restaurants and bars and a half drive from Cork airport.

Now Louise is looking for a smaller, more manageable property in Kinsale.

For years after she moved in, Gallagher fans from around the world would come up and knock on the door. “They came from Germany and France and Japan asking if Rory was home.”

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The hallway

The hallway

The hallway

His boots have walked too. “I gave them to someone they fitted.”

Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes and Sheehy Brothers of Kinsale are asking €995,000 for Castlecove House.

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