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Saturday 17 March 2018

Dalkey dream house: it's a case of art mirroring life


It is a happy coincidence that Irish film director Jim Sheridan's €4m fight over his Dalkey home could soon be confused with the subject of his next blockbuster film, set to hit our screens this September, but one of the key figures in contemporary Irish film confesses he would sell his luxurious by-the-sea pad if he got the right price.

Dream House, starring Hollywood heavyweights Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts, is a film about a successful New York publisher who moves his wife and children to a New England town, where they buy the home of their dreams, but the dream of their happy home is soon shattered.

"It's a love story, murder mystery, a thriller with a horror element to it. It's similar thematically to my personal debacle, but it has nothing to do with the house in Dalkey," laughs the producer and writer.

Actors Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, who co-star in the film, both split from their significant others last year having fallen in love on the set of the film. "I was there but I wasn't aware of them being in love," admits the Dubliner.

'Shay', as he is more fondly known by his friends, was the person who suggested Natalie Portman for director Darren Aronofsky's (Rachel Weisz's ex-husband) Oscar-nominated movie Black Swan. "I also know Darren well and I'm sorry he and Rachel split up, but these things happen. I got Natalie Portman for Darren; I told him she is the best one could ever work with," said Sheridan.

Buying the fisherman's cottage in 1997 with the aim of developing a new house and rockpool on site, it certainly was Sheridan's dream house that ended up becoming his worst nightmare.

It was revealed in court last year how the 62-year-old director and his wife Fran had high hopes for their dream home 'Martha's Vineyard' on the much sought-after Coliemore Road.

It took a turn for the worse when the property suffered from "extensive water ingress which resulted in substantial damage and frustrated efforts to sell it" to two potential purchasers back in 2007 when it was worth an almighty €7m.

According to reported sources "their €4m claim included the cost of works to address the water problem and another €2m for estimated reduction in the value of the property" and was made against eight firms.

Speaking about his frustration, the director, who took Irish stories like My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father to the international stage, says he is still living in the Dalkey house until he gets the right offer.

Refusing to name his price, the director said: "Ireland is crazy now, I don't know if anybody would ever buy anything unless they were a rich person. So when I say I would sell it, it is only because I would, but I love it there so I may not. I'm not going to sell it for six quid just because the market has crashed.

"I can understand the anger but as we hunker down to deal with it, we've got to look outward. German banks lent us the money so we've got to put the pressure back on them," he said.

"You don't like being in those situations. I fear for anybody who has no resources to be in my position because it ain't conducive to poor people going to court. I think courts were created to keep poor people away except just say if somebody was shot. The law needs an overhaul here, everything needs an overhaul here," he said.

With details of the settlement not disclosed, it is said Sheridan was happy with the outcome.

however, at the time it was made public knowledge that if the issue was not resolved the couple's financial position "will be unsustainable".

Sunday Independent

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