Wednesday 12 December 2018

Irish cultural giant Garech de Brun dies

'One of life's original characters has been lost' - cousin Rory Guinness

Garech de Brun was famous for his love of the arts and the parties at Luggala, frequented by the Rolling Stones and the Beatles
Garech de Brun was famous for his love of the arts and the parties at Luggala, frequented by the Rolling Stones and the Beatles

Alan O'Keeffe

The death has occurred of The Hon Garech de Brun, one of the most colourful characters in Irish cultural life over the past 50 years. He was aged 78.

The eldest of the three sons of Dominick Browne - the 4th Lord Oranmore and Browne - and his second wife, Oonagh Guinness, he lived most of his life at Luggala in Co Wicklow, a house made famous by his parties, which were attended by many musical luminaries of the 1960s, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

In 1962, he set up Claddagh Records and asked his friend, uileann piper Paddy Moloney, to form a group to record a one-off album. Paddy responded with the first line-up for The Chieftains.

Last night, Mr de Brun's cousin Rory Guinness, of the famed brewing dynasty, paid tribute.

Noel Pearson. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Noel Pearson. Photo: Fergal Phillips

"One of life's original characters has been lost," he told the Sunday Independent.

"He was so passionate about the arts in Ireland throughout his life, and had been working with the OPW on an exhibition at Farmleigh despite his declining health.

"I remember my mother Miranda always being in awe of the parties at Luggala. Whilst my parents were busy looking after the worlds of politics and business at Farmleigh, Garech was looking after the musicians and writers, the creative arts, that was drawn by the beauty of Luggala and his own innate charm. Garech's talents bought joy to so many," he said.

Another former house, Woodtown Manor, near Dublin was for many years a welcoming place for Irish poets, writers and musicians and was associated with the traditional group Clannad, who made several recordings there.

He also made a number of recordings of the poets Richard Murphy, Seamus Heaney, John Montague and others reading their works. He was a friend a patron of artist Francis Bacon.

His father had the rare distinction of sitting silently in the House of Lords for 72 years until his death, aged 100, in 2002, without ever having spoken in a debate.

As both his parents were married three times, he has had two stepmothers and two stepfathers and also has a number of elder half siblings.

His only full brother, The Hon Tara Browne was a young London socialite whose death at age 21 in a car crash in London's West End was immortalised in the song "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles.

Last night, film producer Noel Pearson said; "This is very sad news. He was an exceptional man. He was really great company and he could be very funny and amusing. It's very sad indeed to hear he has died."

Luggala and its vast estate is currently on the market.

He is survived by his wife Princess Harshad Purna of Morvi.

Sunday Independent

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