BY HELEN RIDDELL
HOLLYWOOD actor Brian Dennehy, who has died last week at the age of 81, was a regular visitor to Beara, where he owned a house for a number of years at Cleandra, Ardgroom.
The star’s death on April 16th was announced on Twitter by his daughter Elizabeth, who said: ‘It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related. Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife Jennifer, family and many friends.’
Dennehy starred alongside Sylvester Stallone in Rambo: First Blood and appeared in the 1985 film Cocoon. He was a two-time Tony Award winner, and won a Golden Globe for performance in Death of a Salesman. His numerous TV roles included Dallas, Dynasty and Miami Vice.
Dennehy’s love of Ireland came from his grandfather who was from Millstreet, in North Cork. He bought the house in Ardgroom in mid-1993 where one of his neighbours was Johnny O’Shea, who said: ‘He was a lovely man. He loved the area and was very interested in the history and if you met him on the road he’d always stop to talk. We were very sad when he sold the house and left Beara. The last time I saw Brian was when myself and some neighbours travelled to see him in the play, The Field in Killarney. He was delighted when he heard we were in the audience and came out to talk to us. That was the last time I ever saw him in person.’
Another friend and neighbour, Brian Leahy, helped the Dennehy family look after the house and garden in Beara and was shocked to hear the news of his death.
‘I was only talking to him two weeks ago, and met him last New Year’s Eve when he visited Kenmare. We kept in contact over the years and visited him and his family in the US. He was a private man, but very down to earth.’
Although he enjoyed his time in Beara, it was a serious health incident with his young son which resulted in Brian opting to leave Beara. The child, who was asthmatic, suffered a severe asthma attack during one visit. He was brought to St Joseph’s Hospital in Castletownbere where he was treated by local healthcare staff who Brian later praised for saving his son’s life. After this incident, the couple felt that the Irish climate was too damp and not suitable for their son and they reluctantly left.