What does The Producers' Matthew Broderick need to produce a perfect getaway among the rolling green hills of Ireland? A few chip shops, a cozy cottage, and (curiously) the smell of burning peat.
Matthew Broderick is going to take you on an adventure, one that he's been taking for most of his life. It's a journey to a magical place four hours outside of Dublin, Ireland, a seaside town called Killybegs that his parents discovered and passed on to him when Broderick, a native New Yorker, was 10 years old. Making his stage debut at age 17 opposite his father, Broderick went on to become a sensation on Broadway, winning two Tony awards. He became a superstar in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and, as an adult, he's starred in scores of films, including Glory, Biloxi Blues, and Election. He's broken all records on Broadway as Leo Bloom, the mousy accountant suckered by Nathan Lane's bottom-feeder producer in The Producers, and is now starring opposite Lane onstage in The Odd Couple.
Broderick reprises his role in the movie version of The Producers, along with Lane and Uma Thurman. But this summer, he'll be flying into Dublin with his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, and their three-year-old son, James, following the route that his parents took so many years ago. They'll disappear into the world his folks fell in love with in the middle of nowhere, where they bought a second home and where Broderick and his family now have a home, too.
This is the same adventure on which he's about to take you. You'll fall asleep, if you're lucky, for the four-hour drive from Dublin to Killybegs, which Broderick admits "people may have never heard of." When you awaken, he promises, "your eyes pop out of your head," and this is what you will discover.
Okay, start at the beginning. My father has Irish heritage. My mom took a trip to Ireland - a very short trip - and when she saw Ireland, she was like, "I've got to take my husband here because he will be amazed to see all his relatives." They went back a little while later and drove all around Ireland. They stopped on part of a road that they thought was beautiful, near a beach, and there was a little bed-and-breakfast in this little village, Killybegs. They ended up renting a house and getting us children over there. They got to know the woman - whom I know to this day - who owned that house. They stayed with her, and she sort of found the house for them to rent, and they ended up buying one. So they really just happened upon it. We'd spend the summer there. After renting for a year or two, my parents bought a little bungalow right on the ocean and I started going there from the time I was about 10 years old. I've been there pretty much every summer and many Christmases. Now I have a little house right next to my parents' house.
Can you still stay in the bed-and-breakfast your parents found? The woman, Maggie O'Donnell, is still there, but she does not do that anymore. She rents out the little cottage next to her house. The whole family used to live in a cottage that is next door, and it is perfectly preserved. The only way you can find her is to drive from Killybegs toward a town called Kilcar and stay on the coast road. About two miles before you get to Kilcar, I think you would just have to ask somebody, "Where is Maggie O'Donnell's house?" They don't even have numbers on the houses. It's a gray, two-story building, and next to it is a cottage. They rent out that cottage.
What's there to do in that little town? Nothing! I mean, there's fishing. There are some nice rocks right below the house where you can fish for mackerel and flat fish called plaice, which is kind of like a flounder. The people fish in streams around there, too, but I don't. There is a lot of fishing. There is beautiful, beautiful hiking. It's so green because of the rain. The downside is you could spend a month there and barely get out because it just rains. It's incredibly lush, and there are not many trees, just rolling green hills with massive cliffs that go straight into the ocean. It's very dramatic. The main attraction to me is, honestly, the people, the farmers who have been there forever and ever. These families I have known my whole life are so interesting. They farm sheep, mostly.
Where can you stay if you don't have a home there? Millions of little bed-and-breakfasts, just people's homes you can stay in. There are also fancy hotels nearby. One is called Harvey's Point, which is really beautiful. That is a great place to stay and a great place to eat. Then there is a hotel in St. John's Point called Castle Murray. That's a lovely spot.
What were your impressions of Killybegs as a kid? I just remember how green it was, just the amount of rolling, bright green hills that you see. It's just stunning. Of course, my first memory was the peat in the fireplaces, the smell of burning peat everywhere, which I loved. I loved that we had this big stove and that I got to help load it with peat. It smells really good. I don't know how to describe it. It smells like peat. There is a whiskey called Lagavulin Whiskey that everyone says is very peaty. If you want to know what peat smells like, you have to have a little drink of that and maybe you will know.