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Boorman living the Tiger Ireland dream

LARISSA NOLAN HE lambasted the greed and vulgar wealth of the new Ireland and spoke of a nation destroyed by its new-found affluence.

But multi-millionaire film director John Boorman is not averse to the good life himself - living a gated lifestyle in his concealed mansion in the Wicklow mountains, surrounded by an exclusive set of celebrity neighbours. At the preview of his new film A Tiger's Tail - which tells the cautionary story of a crooked, post Celtic-Tiger property developer - Mr Boorman, 73, launched an attack on the country he has lived in for the past 36 years.

The Excalibur and Deliverance director criticised Ireland at the preview in September for its "new prosperity - and vulgar flaunting of wealth" and its "stunning landscapes - and the plague of ugly bungalows".

Mr Boorman's home in the quiet village of Annamoe, Co Wicklow, is certainly no ugly bungalow and he does not go in for the crude ostentatious display of wealth so beloved of the nouveau riche.

His home itself is hidden away behind a set of iron gates, complete with intercom through which visitors are vetted before being allowed admittance.

His family home, which he shares with his wife Isabella Weibrecht and his three young children, is just a short walk from the trout farm for which the village is well-known. However, it is quite clear from walking up the path to his house that this is not owned by your average Annamoe local.

According to sources, his land backs on to Daniel Day Lewis' property on one side and U2 manager Paul McGuinness's on the other.

His children do not go to local schools and instead are driven the 25 miles to the capital for their education.

But although the man who grew up in a "faceless" London suburb may have been unable to resist the swisher lifestyle his successful film career has afforded him, in many ways, he is one of the most down-to-earth celebrity-types in Ireland.

A resident of the Garden County for almost 40 years, those who know him say he mingles with locals and is a well-known face in the Roundwood-Annamoe area. Chef Paolo Tullio, who lives beside him, describes him as an ideal next-door neighbour.

He is a regular visitor to Roundwood Inn - which won the best pub in Ireland award last week - where he often goes for lunch or an evening drink.

A Roundwood pub patron said: "He likes this place. If he has a drink it will be one glass of Guinness. He doesn't make a fuss and no one makes a fuss of him."

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And hisvehicle is far from 06 WW SUV. A source said: "As far as I know he drives an old Mercedes estate. It's nowhere near new - he's not interested in all that stuff."

The honorary Irish movie legend certainly had a point to make about how badly Ireland has handled its economic success.

In the lengthy, poetic speech, listing the good and the bad of the island, he spoke of, "The conviviality of the pub and binge-drinking. The welcoming smile to the stranger and rabid xenophobia.

"Poets and scholars and the higest illiteracy rate in Europe. Longer life expectancy and young men taking their own lives. The compassionate nurse and the callous health service. The rule of law and the grotesque greed of lawyers; the craic and the crack-up; national neutrality and gun and drug wars.

"The anonymous generosity that fills the collection boxes and the grotesque greed of lawyers."

He compared the blue-eyed, black-haired Galway girl of yore to the dyed-blonde in the SUV with a phone glued to her ear.

A Tiger's Tail, which stars Brendan Gleeson and Kim Catrall, has been described as the most negative portrayal ever of Ireland. It depicts a country populated by corrupt politicians, greedy businessmen, homeless junkies and vomiting teenagers.

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