TRIBUTES flowed from Ireland’s gourmet capital yesterday following the death of Keith Floyd — one of its most popular adopted sons.
The legendary TV chef lived in a luxury waterside home just outside Kinsale in Co Cork for several years from the early ’90s.
Creek Cottage was described as his getaway. He shared it first with his third wife, Shaunagh, and later with his fourth wife, Tess.
Among his closest friends during that time were Billy Mackessy, who ran Bawnleigh House, near Kinsale, and Billy Crosbie, a director of Thomas Crosbie Holdings, owners of the Irish Examiner. “Floyd was a great talent. He was full of enthusiasm and had a good heart,” Mr Crosbie said.
“What I loved about Floyd was that he wasn’t in a sanitised kitchen. He was interesting and entertaining, but there was a tragic side to him too.
“His death is so sad because he had so much more to give. The tragedy of alcohol took over unfortunately.”
Floyd took Kinsale to his heart and helped boost the profile of its annual rugby sevens tournament by inviting several international English, Welsh and Scottish rugby stars to visit the event.
He also helped boost the town’s reputation, both nationally and internationally, as a leading food destination.
Jack Walsh, the general manager of Acton’s Hotel, and a leading member of the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism, met him several times.
“He was a flamboyant character, a really lovely character,” Mr Walsh said.
“He was very well known and was one of the few superstars around at the time. He was well liked.
“He was great company but behind it all, I think he was essentially a very shy person.” Media company director Kevin Sanquest, the former owner of the 1601 pub and restaurant in Kinsale, said Floyd was a regular customer.
“He would come in for a morning coffee and a scone, and a nip of Bushmills with ice,” he said. “We became friendly and I suppose I was his daytime confidante. I tried to keep my distance and keep our relationship professional. But we had great respect for each other.”
Mr Sanquest recalls screening phone calls from reporters around the world seeking information on what Floyd was doing from time to time.
Local businessman Brian Forrest, a former owner of The Spaniard, another of Floyd’s favoured watering holes, said every night with the chef was a fun night.
“He was a great supporter of the town and of Irish food,” he said.
He also recalled how Floyd, along with former Irish soccer boss Jack Charlton acted as ambassadors for the Irish tourist board in the 1990s.
“He had Kinsale’s interests at its heart,” he said. “I remember several memorable trips up the estuary in his 20 foot traditional boat... for picnics.”
The Irish Examiner’s Alice de la Cour also knew Floyd and hosted his TV crew on several occasions.
“His hospitality and sense of fun were second to none,” she said.
“There was no brunch like a Sunday brunch at Floyd’s — champagne, devilled kidneys, lamb cutlets and eggs with the sunny side up.
“I remember bringing a bottle of champagne and a bottle of vodka to one party, and he called me aside and said: ‘I bet you were the one who brought these’.
“I said ‘yes’, and he replied: ‘When you’re invited to this house, you don’t need to bring drink. You are my guest’.”
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