‘Shy’ Van Morrison valued his privacy, wife tells court

Michelle Morrison said her singer husband liked ‘to have his privacy in the home’

Michelle Morrison leaving the Four Courts after giving evidence in her High Court action against her neighbours. Photograph: Collins Courts

Michelle Morrison leaving the Four Courts after giving evidence in her High Court action against her neighbours. Photograph: Collins Courts


Michelle Morrison has told the High Court that privacy and sea views were important considerations for herself and her husband, singer Van Morrison, when they decided to live in Kilross House on Sorrento Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin.

Mr Morrison is a “private” and “shy” man who liked “to have his privacy in the home”, she said.

The house, previously owned by businessman Harry Crosbie, was put up for auction in 1996 and the day before the auction, she and her husband visited the house but only got access to the garden, Ms Morrison said.

Ms Morrison, to whom Mr Morrison transferred sole ownership of the house in 2009, said her husband had thought he might have a recording studio in the house at the time he bought it. 

However, as matters progressed and plans were drawn up, it was decided it would be a family home, she said.

The house, a protected structure which was among a number of buildings on a larger original property, was extended with the extension designed to  “maximise the views going out to sea”, she said.

She has started giving evidence on the fourth day of her action against neighbours Conor and Eileen Kavanagh.

Ms Morrison claimed, when undertaking works to demolish their old home, Mount Alverno, and replace it with a new 7,500 square foot structure, the Kavanaghs breached an agreement to preserve views her family enjoys of Dalkey Island from Kilross.

The Kavanaghs, who the court heard also go by the names Desmond and Mary, deny there was any agreement.

Ms Morrison said the appeal of Kilross house for her were the views of Dalkey sound and island and of rocks known as “the Muglins”.

She and her family also liked to watch boats, including the ferry, go by.

Asked by her counsel Mark Sanfey about Mr Morrison’s attitude to privacy, she said he was “a private man who sees his job as his job and his private life as his private life”.

“He is also a shy man and he would like to have his privacy in the home”.

At the time Kilross House was being renovated, there was nobody living in the old Mount Alverno and the gardens of both houses were in need of maintenance, she said.

There was a window from the old Mount Alverno overlooking Kilross and she remembered discussing with him, if that situation remained the same, they would have to do some screening on their side.

They understood they were living in the suburbs and were overlooked by cottages above their house and by another house owned by racing driver Eddie Irvine, she said.

However, privacy was still an area of concern. 

“When Van gets out of his car, he wants to be able to walk to the hall door without feeling he was being overlooked,” she said.

There had been a problem with another neighbour, Fonzie O’Mara, about work by the Morrisons on their driveway and the taking down of a hedge which upset Mr O’Mara who got an injunction against them, she said. Everything is now sorted, she added.

Ms Morrison said as part of a planning application submitted by them for their renovations, their architect at the time had proposed building a wall which would be 1.7 metres high and would have affected the views.

That was never proceeded with, was in fact an error and probably done because the architect “went a bit overboard” in terms of trying to protect privacy, she said.

Going through photographs taken from her home, Ms Morrison said there were “lovely views” from her kitchen and they were able to see Kish lighthouse, Dalkey Island and the Muglins.

There were also views from the upstairs although not from the patio in the garden. They did not use the front garden much because there was a “360 degree view” of it from the new Mount Alverno.

The case resumes next week.