Saturday 24 March 2018

Thriller for Bertie to find Michael Jackson was a fan

Michael Jackson during his time in Ireland in 2006
Michael Jackson during his time in Ireland in 2006

MICHAEL Jackson was a fan of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

The King of Pop regularly referred to the former Fianna Fail leader as "a nice guy" and avidly read Irish newspapers to keep up with news of his hero.

That's according to Moate based cabbie Ray O'Hara, Jackson's personal driver during the six months he spent here in Ireland during 2006.

"Any time Bertie would pop up on TV, Michael would remark 'Ah Bertie is a nice guy," Ray O'Hara told the Herald.

The 47-year-old reveal Jackson's fondness for Bertie in 'Michael Jackson's Irish Driver' an RTE Radio Documentary-On-One, produced and presented by Irish Independent journalist Ken Sweeney, which airs this Saturday on RTE Radio One at 2pm.

Among those taken aback is Bertie Ahern himself.

"Wow. That's the first time I've hear that. And it's really nice to hear. I met Michael Jackson once when Oliver Barry brought him to Cork in 1988. I was Minister of Labour then, sorting out strikes and bringing different sides together. Maybe that was discussed. All I remember was meeting Michael, and driving back to Dublin, my two little girls Georgina and Cecelia asleep in the back of the car,"

Bertie Ahern told this week.

Jackson returned to Ireland 18 years later to live and record at Grouse Lodge studios in County Westmeath with Prince Michael Junior(9), Paris (8) and Blanket (4) Incredibly it took the world’s media nearly six months before they found out as the owners of the businesses he visited choose to stay silent.

When a pizza delivery man spotted Jackson in a local bowling alley, the woman owner assured him the man in the funny hat “was not Michael Jackson, but just "a fella from Tullamore who thinks he's Michael Jackson”.

Dublin born Ray O'Hara became, not only driver but bodyguard to the biggest star on the planet.

"The first few days I was in shock. I kept looking in the mirror to be sure the guy in the back really was Michael Jackson," said O'Hara who charged Jackson the same rate per day as he would other local customers in Co Westmeath.

Jackson arrived in Ireland in 2006 after being acquiited in a damaging child molestation case.

In the light of this, Grouse Lodge owner Paddy Dunning reveals in the radio docu how he called a family meeting to decide whether they should allow Jackson stay at their residential studio.

I don't think Michael was one of those predator paedophile guys, and I certainly wouldn't have let him down to my house of that was the case.

..When I met him and talked to him, I immediately got the vibe that this guy had been made into a monster. That's my opinion and I certainly wouldn't have let him into my house if i thought otherwise,"

said Dunning who recounts how the King Of Pop nearly ended up pushing his car through Crumlin when they ran out of petrol on a trip to Dublin.

Used to their palatial Neverland mansion the Jackson family moved into a converted cowshed on the Grouse Lodge Estate.

But even after word got out, and the world media descended on Westmeath locals farmers gave wrong direction to arriving newsman so they would not find where he was living in Grouse Lodge.

Documentary on One: Michael Jackson’s Irish Driver RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday 12th October, 2pm


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