Wednesday 21 March 2018

Privacy was 'important consideration' for Van Morrison and wife Michelle when they bought Dalkey mansion, High Court hears

Michelle Morrison is involved in a dispute with her neighbours
Michelle Morrison is involved in a dispute with her neighbours

Tim Healy

PRIVACY and sea views were important considerations for singer Van Morrison and his wife Michelle when they decided to live in Kilross House on the Sorrento Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin, the High Court heard.

The house, previously owned by businessman Harry Crosbie, was put up for auction in 1996 and the day before the auction, Van and Michelle visited the house but only got access to the garden, Ms Morrison said.

Michelle Morrison (right) with her sister Laura leaving the High Court yesterday
Michelle Morrison (right) with her sister Laura leaving the High Court yesterday

Ms Morrison, to whom Mr Morrison transferred sole ownership of the house in 2009, said at the time he bought it, Van thought he might have a recording studio there. However, as matters progressed and plans were drawn up, it was decided it would be a family home, she said.  

The house, a protected structure which was one of a number of buildings on a larger original property, was extended with the extension designed to "maximise the views going out to sea", she said.

She has begun giving evidence on the fourth day of her action against neighbours Conor and Eileen Kavanagh  claiming they breached an agreement to preserve views her family enjoys of Dalkey Island from Kilross when undertaking work to demolish their old home, Mount Alverno, and replace it with a new 7,500 square foot structure. 

The Kavanaghs, who the court heard also go by the names Desmond and Mary, deny there was any agreement.

What appealed to Ms Morrison about the house were the views of Dalkey sound and island and rocks known as "the Muglins". She and her family also liked to watch boats, including the ferry, go by.

Asked by her counsel Mark Sanfey about Van's attitude to privacy, she said he was "a private man who sees his job as his job and his private life as his private life.

Van Morrison and his wife Michelle
Van Morrison and his wife Michelle

"He is also a shy man and he would like to have his privacy in the home."

At the time Kilross House was being renovated, there was nobody living in the old Mount Alverno and the gardens of both houses were in need of maintenance, she said.

There was a window from the old Mount Alverno overlooking Kilross and she remembered discussing with Van if that remained the same, they would have to do some screening on their side.

However, she said, they understood they were living in the suburbs and they were overlooked by cottages above their house and by another house which was owned by racing driver Eddie Irvine.

However, privacy was still an area of concern. "When Van gets out of his car, he wants to be able to walk to the hall door without feeling he was being overlooked".

There had been a problem with another neighbour, Fonzie O'Mara, about work by the Morrisons on their driveway and the taking down of a hedge which upset Mr O'Mara who got an injunction against them. However, everything is now sorted, she said.

Ms Morrison said as part of a planning application submitted by them for their renovations, their architect at the time had proposed building a wall which would be 1.7metres high which would have affected the views.

However, that was never proceeded with and was in fact an error and probably done because the architect "went a bit overboard" in terms of trying to protect privacy, she said.

Going through photographs taken from her home, Ms Morrison said there were "lovely views" from her kitchen and they were able to see Kish lighthouse, Dalkey Island and the Muglins. 

There were also views from the upstairs although not from the patio in the garden. They did not use the front garden much because there was a "360 degree view" of it from the new Mount Alverno.

The case resumes next week.

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