I took this photo at Nora’s abode at the Dodder footbridge, Donnybrook.
I also liked this lily – which was growing beside a garden gate nearby Nora’s abode.
The neighbour pointed to the footbridge and the row of modern houses overlooking the Dodder and told me that the property originally belonged to Frankie Byrne. She asked if I’d heard of her. I told her that I knew she was an agony aunt in days of yore on RTÉ and along with Gay Byrne‘s The Late Late Show she too had invented sex in Ireland. That brought a smile to her face. She knew I was on the right track generation-wise.
She then began to tell me that that house has to be painted in pink. No other colour would suffice, as there was a preservation order on the house. She went on to say that the house was once a lodging home to Rex Harrison. ”What,” I exclaimed, ”you mean to say that the tiny cottage was a temporary home to a famous star”.
She said, “no, it’s not tiny at all? It’s a huge house, you probably didn’t look further than your nose when you were taking the photos.” She was dead right on that front. I later surveyed the surroundings and discovered that almost most of the cul-de-sac to one side of a long row of houses was all part of Laburnum cottage and the door you see here was only a mere back entrance to the substantial property. Blimey, to think that I was drawn to the outside of a house with beautiful flowers that once was temporary lodging home to a very famous actor. I had done a video tribute of the flowers outside the house without knowing its history.
I began to reminisce about when I was a young person residing in London and had a friend who was a ballet dancer at Ballet Rambert, and of the time we were a team who went around various theatres at a moments’ notice filling in vacant usher spots. That way we got to see all the plays for free.
I told her of the time we dashed along to the Globe theatre and found ourselves going into the wrong back-stage dressing-room of one Rex Harrison. I went on further to say to her that he’d made a nice comment on my Irish accent, as we apologetically stood there in utter amazement.
We darted off, as we’d not much time to lose before changing into our appropriate theatre outfits to hand out theatre programmes. It was on the same night that I’d approached Kirk Douglas and his bejewelled, fur-coated blonde haired youngish wife, who were patrons sitting near the front-row.
The celebrity star said, “no thanks”. I found out later that the head-person running the theatre seemingly was on very friendly terms with all the celebrities and looked after their needs. I think I remember at the time only wanting to have it to say that I spoke to a famous person at the Globe theatre. Incidentally, the name of the play was Chez Nous, to starred Geraldine McEwan and Albert Finney.
I remember that the latter had just prior to Chez Nous (At Home) had starred with Ingrid Bergman in Murder on the Orient Express which was then a very major film. It was also well rumoured that he was gay.
I don’t mean to say that in a derogatory way, but in days gone by it was not spoken about in the same way as today. Rex Harrison, was in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.
In later years later that I approached Ingrid Bergman as she was descending the steps outside Westminster Cathedral in the aftermath of attendance at Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of Alfred Hitchcock. I asked her for an autograph. She waved her arms so brusquely at me and told me to goooooooawaaaaaaay. I was gobsmacked. I found out later that she was unwell with a terminal illness and had herself died within six months.
I also encountered Jonn Mills, and his wife. He was very friendly and gave me his autograph after he told me to go to him after he came out of the cathedral after the requiem mass in honour of the great AH. I also saw Phyllis Diller. I think she read a tribute at the lectern for the iconoclastic film producer. There were so many global celebrities there.
The neighbour was an absolute wealth of Donnybrook historical knowledge. I was so lucky to have enjoyed the company of Nora and herself.
I then wended my way towards Eglinton Rd. It was raining cats and dogs by this stage.
I managed to get a discreet photo of Laburnum Cottage that must be painted only in pink. Nora’s neighbour told me before I departed that Rex Harrison’s son sold the property. So betwixt Nora’s pink roses; her neighbours’ white lilies, Laburnum cottage and its famous celebrity history and meandering at a snail’s pace along Eglinton Rd., it was a heck of a fine day. Even despite the torrential rain I had felt so at chez nous in conversation with Nora’s neighbour and the beautiful surroundings