Star wanted his family to grow up in Ireland
MICHAEL Jackson was a down-to-earth family man who munched crisps and sandwiches "from the boot of a car" as he searched for property in Ireland.
Private details of Jackson's Irish house hunt emerged yesterday. The tragic star stayed in north Cork in 2006, before returning to Ireland the following year with a view to purchasing a property.
Auctioneer Dominic Daly assisted Jackson in his search for a home in Ireland when he returned a year later.
Jackson was looking for a safe environment in which to bring up his children. As he found the Irish welcoming, friendly and well educated, he felt it would be a good place for his kids. "He viewed five or six properties while he was here, he wanted acres of space. He fell in love with one particular period property; there was talk of €50m for it.
"It was a spectacular place in Co Cork, with water frontage, surrounded by rolling private lands. But he wanted additional land and while I organised that with local landowners and got back to his people in the States, I never heard from them again. I think, myself, there may have been a funding problem."
Jackson had a surprisingly strong handshake, according to Mr Daly, who found him easy to talk to. "I was pleasantly surprised by him. He was upfront and easy to talk to. He was a nice guy," Mr Daly said.
He was also reportedly interested in properties like Inishkeel Island near Donegal; Luggala Estate, Co Wicklow; and Charlie Haughey's Inishvickillane.
According to Aidan Farrell, Jackson was also interested in Woodhouse Estate, in Stradbally, Co Waterford. He lost out to Mr Farrell and his business partner Charles O'Reilly-Hyland, who bought the Georgian home on 339.5 acres of grazing land and estate woodland. The property was valued at €7.5m in March 2009.
Pat O'Hagan of estate agents Savills showed the star and his children around a "large, important country house in Co Meath" in September 2006, then priced at "around €20m".
He was told to arrive at the house to show around an unnamed client and that there was to be nobody else on the premises. There was also a request that the party be permitted to have a picnic on the grounds of the property. "The picnic request made sense -- they could hardly stop in McDonalds or Supermacs on their way back, and he had to feed the kids. We had salad and sandwiches and crisps and a glass of wine," said Mr O'Hagan.
"Michael chatted away . . . He spoke about doing three concerts a day from the time he was very young. He had a certain amount of resentment against his father because of the amount of pushing that was done when he was young.
"The kids were there, rolling down the lawns, which were wet, and they went to feed the chickens in the yard. They were lovely, they were very well-mannered kids and he was very attentive to them. It was a group of ordinary people having a chat and a picnic out of the boot of the car."