John Lennon would have turned 80 this past week. Sadly, it’s a birthday that never was due to his life having been cut short by an assassin forty years earlier.
Shortly before he was gunned down Lennon was working toward making good on a promise to himself and others that he would one day retire to the coast of Ireland. Lennon had strong familial ties to the island nation. His grandparent’s on his father’s side were born in Dublin and his father was a hard-knuckled seaman who explored the coasts of both Ireland and Great Britain during his life. (As a young boy John had first intended to go live with his father when his parents split but after his mother pleaded with him to stay he did so out of worry for her mental state. Lennon’s fascination with the sea that was so much a part of his father’s life never left him though.)
In 1967 he purchased the 21-acre Dorinish Island off the Mayo coast and then began to secure the rights to build a home there. A year later he brought Yoko Ono to the island where they celebrated a second honeymoon and it was there he told her it would be their place to get away from the pressures of celebrity. (The Irish people are known for their casual attitude toward the rich and famous, a trait the former Beatle found both fascinating and endearing.)
Here is a quote from an interview Lennon gave in 1970 about the prospects of future retirement:
“I hope we’re a nice old couple living off the coast of Ireland or something like that — looking out at our scrapbook of madness.”
As the 1970’s came to a close and Lennon approached his 40th birthday, he again began making plans for building an estate on Dorinish. Sadly, before construction was to begin, he was killed in New York, leaving us to only imagine what could have been…
There is a moment in the recent Beatles-inspired film Yesterday where the film’s protagonist visits an alternate universe John Lennon who has happily lived out his days in relative obscurity. The filmmakers were clearly giving a nod to Lennon’s love of the Irish coast (its director, Danny Boyle, was born to Irish parents and spent most of his summers growing up there) as well as pondering what his life might have been like had he stuck with his original choice to live with his father. While the movie is a rather haphazard affair overall, this one scene is nearly perfect in every way. Reviews have stated how audiences openly gasped when the door opens and we see what appears to be John Lennon greeting his unannounced guest. One account said that Paul McCartney, who had snuck into a theatre and sat in the back so he could view the film alone with his wife, was moved to tears by how accurately it captured how an older Lennon might have looked and sounded.
Here is that remarkable scene:
(note the name of the boat they are sitting on)
D.W. Ulsterman is the bestselling author of the San Juan Islands Mystery series and The Irish Cowboy.
He lives with his wife of 28 years in the Pacific Northwest and is the proud father of two grown children, Devan and Sienna.
He’s also best friends with Dublin the Dobe.
When he’s not busy writing you’ll find him navigating the waters of his beloved San Juan Islands.
All of his novels are available HERE