(08-19-2002) Bono's hometown a hot destination - CNN - U2 Feedback

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Old 08-19-2002, 03:36 PM   #1
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(08-19-2002) Bono's hometown a hot destination - CNN

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Emerald Isle glitters with stars
August 19, 2002 Posted: 10:56 AM EDT (1456 GMT)



"It's a great place to live and the neighbors are wonderful," U2's Bono says of Killiney, Ireland.


KILLINEY, Ireland (Reuters) -- A stroll though the picturesque Irish village of Killiney can be an unsettling experience for the star-struck.

On any given day, visitors to the plush coastal enclave might spot U2's Bono popping into the corner shop for a pint of milk, Formula One heartthrob Eddie Irvine racing down main street in a gleaming green Jaguar and British soul singer Lisa Stansfield sipping a glass of wine in the village pub.

Dubbed the "rock-broker belt" or "Bel Eire," Killiney and its environs on the coast outside Dublin are home to a galaxy of stars such as reclusive songstress Enya, film director Neil Jordan and musician Van Morrison -- their Victorian mansions and rustic castles jutting out over the Irish Sea.

"It's a great place to live and the neighbors are wonderful. You can really unwind, and as an added bonus you will never get hassled in the street," Bono says of his locality.

"George Michael, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney have also been here and loved it to death."

But, while undoubtedly Ireland's celebrity honey pot, Killiney is not the only part of the country finding favor.

Despite the almost perpetual veil of rain hanging over it, the Emerald Isle has traditionally been a magnet for stars.

The relaxed, laid-back attitude of the locals, the tranquillity of the lush countryside and the generous tax breaks offered to artists have made this misty, moist island a hot spot for big names tired of sun-baked Los Angeles or Monte Carlo.

"The more time I spend touring, the more I want to rush back and nip down to the local pub for a pint of Guinness. No matter who you are, rich, famous or working class, you are treated the same. It's a fab place to hang out," says Killiney resident Joe Elliott of British rock group Def Leppard.

Emer O'Reilly-Hyland, editor of the Irish magazine VIP, said Ireland was the perfect celebrity hideaway.

"The privacy factor would be a big draw. There are so many parts of the country that are remote, and as a nation we don't really like to annoy the stars," she said.

Sex and the village
As Carrie in the U.S. television hit "Sex and the City," actress Sarah Jessica Parker is an affirmed urban chick who wouldn't be seen dead clicking her Manolo Blahnik heels outside New York, but off-screen it's the peace of the Irish countryside she truly yearns for.

"I feel I could learn to knit and earn a living in Ireland," Parker told Vogue magazine.

Parker and her husband, actor Matthew Broderick, regularly jet over to the wilds of County Donegal, on the rugged northwestern tip of Ireland, and according to reports, have splashed out on a holiday home there.

At the other end of the country, in the southern county of Cork, suave British screen star Jeremy Irons has shelled out a small fortune to renovate a 15th-century castle.

Generally popular among locals for his involvement in the community, the elegant thespian provoked annoyance in some quarters when he painted the castle a peachy pink, earning it the nickname "The Pink Flamingo."

In the same county, "Lord of the Dance" millionaire Michael Flatley has become lord of the manor after buying a sprawling 19th-century mansion.

Celebrity hideout
While many of the celebrities who have settled in Ireland have local connections -- Flatley's family originally hailed from Ireland and Irons' wife Sinead Cusack comes from a prominent Irish family -- others are attracted by the privacy.

With its cold weather and remote outposts, Ireland is a no-go area for paparazzi on the hunt for shots of topless starlets. And the locals are often hostile to outsiders inquiring about famous inhabitants.

"Pretty Woman" Julia Roberts fled to the west of Ireland in 1991 to escape the world media after spectacularly dumping fiance Kiefer Sutherland three days before their wedding.

The Oscar-winner has been a regular visitor ever since and even asked her Irish chauffeur to walk her down the aisle at her eventual wedding last month to cameraman Danny Moder.

British author Salman Rushdie, under a death threat for allegedly blaspheming against Islam in his novel "The Satanic Verses," also took refuge in Ireland -- reportedly living for a while at the bottom of old pal Bono's back garden in the 1990s.

The U2 frontman has played host to a number of big names over the years, most recently Danish supermodel Helena Christensen who jetted in earlier this year to help babysit the singer's four children while he was on tour.

Wedded bliss
Ireland's romantic scenery and fairytale castles have also made the country a prime venue for celebrity weddings.

In June, ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney put the tiny Irish border village of Glaslough on the map when he married former model Heather Mills in a lavish ceremony at the local castle.

The songwriter was the latest in a long line of stars to tie the knot on Irish soil.

England soccer captain David Beckham married pop diva Victoria Adams at Luttrellstown Castle outside Dublin in 1999, and "James Bond" actor Pierce Brosnan wed former television reporter Keely Shaye-Smith last year at the 800-year-old Ballintubber Abbey in the western county of Mayo.

But for Huey Morgan, funky frontman of U.S. group the Fun Lovin' Criminals, Ireland isn't so much a place for romance as somewhere to take a break from his work as a babe magnet.

"All my life I never got model girls talking to me. Now they're talking to me and of course I'm going to talk back ... In Ireland, it's a lot funnier. You go there and it's 'Hey Huey, how you doing?' and then they walk off laughing."

Copyright 2002 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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