Irish hideaway of Saturday Night Live comedian on the market for €1.425m
Saturday Night Live comedian's former home for €1.425m
The late Irish-American comic Michael O'Donoghue - also known as Mr Mike - was famous for shedding a previously unimaginable darkness on to dark comedy.
Back in the 1970s, he was one of the founders of National Lampoon magazine before becoming the first head writer for Saturday Night Live, which went on to become a US comedy institution, and for which he won two Emmy awards.
He was renowned for being mercurial, brilliant, influential and almost universally nasty - almost: "I try to attack all races and creeds, except the Irish," he was quoted as saying. "Clearly they are the closest to the angels and don't deserve abuse. But the others have it coming."
In view of those sentiments, it was natural O'Donoghue should want to acquire a country pile back on the old sod once he'd made some money. So in the 80s, he and his wife Cheryl Hardwick (a classical pianist who had been Saturday Night Live's music director) bought Garraunbaun House, near Letterfrack in Connemara, and would summer there with friends.
Quentin Tarantino came to stay in the summer of 1994, just before Pulp Fiction was released. He and O'Donoghue were mutual admirers and began planning a film project together at Garraunbaun.
It wasn't to be though. O'Donoghue was to die only a few months later of a brain haemorrhage in November 1994, at the age of 54. In his on-air Saturday Night Live eulogy, Bill Murray said Mr Mike had gone straight to hell, to meet friends Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot.
O'Donoghue was cremated and his ashes were scattered in Connemara. A few years later Hardwick, his widow, sold Garraunbaun on, and in 2005 it was bought by its current owner, Neil O'Donoghue (no relation), who restored it.
The house was built in 1852, according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, for Charles Palmer Archer. He chose a good spot for it, as it has panoramic views of the Twelve Pins and lake frontage on to Garraun Lough.
Garraunbaun is 4,090 sq ft on two storeys, having been extended down through the decades.
The fanlit and glazed front door opens to an elegant, wood-floored entrance hall, with reception rooms arranged either side of it and an open-string staircase rising to the bedrooms upstairs.
To the right of the hall is a dual-aspect music room or drawing room, where there are three sash windows and an ornate fireplace. Off this is a sewing room or games room with a tiled floor and French doors to the garden.
On the opposite side of the hall is the library, also dual-aspect, with built-in bookshelves, a wood floor and another fireplace.
The library opens into the kitchen, where there are blue-painted cabinets, a tile floor and a modern five-door Aga. The kitchen has both a pantry and scullery opening off it, as well as an office. As it's laid out at present, the house doesn't have a dining room as such. At over 21ft by 16ft, though, the kitchen is big enough to accommodate a large dining table. Otherwise it will be necessary to adapt one of the other rooms.
From the scullery you reach a workshop, and that leads into a second staircase hall that forms a separate wing of the house, with its own entrance. It has a shower room on the ground floor and a guest bedroom upstairs.
The five bedrooms are all upstairs on the first floor. Two of them are ensuite, including the master bedroom, and they all have high ceilings and views over the surrounding mountainscape. The house stands on 26 acres, nine of these are made up of a paddock behind the house, and another eight acres are on the other side of Garraunbaun Lough.
The remaining nine acres consist of gardens, an orchard and a vegetable garden.
The property has private access to Garraunbaun Lough and there are fishing rights for over half of the lake. It is also equipped with 4G wifi - in fact the house is more or less in a state of readiness for the apocalypse, having its own septic tank and private water scheme as well as a rainwater harvesting system, and even a back-up generator in the event of a power cut.
Garraunbaun House is about 5km from Letterfrack, 11km from Clifden, and about an hour and a half from Galway City by car.
Moyard, Letterfrack, Connemara, Co Galway
Asking price: €1.425m
Agent: Savills Country (01) 663 4350