Jack and Eoin

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Crumlin Lodge, Indreabhán (Inverin), Conamara (Connemara), the creative energy behind the Roxy Music mega album, Avalon

Above is a painting of the original Crumlin Lodge. The tight road funnels across a small bridge in the center of the picture. Just beyond the bridge is the gatehouse of Crumlin Lodge and in the background we see the roof on Crumlin Lodge itself. To the left is Lough Ugga Beag and to the right is Lough Ugga Mór. The buildings are surrounded by a unique collection of fora. Its almost tropical and looks so out of kilter with the surrounding bog.

I created the website www.connemarasouth.com to help the online presence of small local business in Connemara (Cois Fharraige). I traveled most of the small roads into the bog. On one occasion I met a Martin Costello. Martin brought the initial story of Crumlin Lodge to me and was central to the story through the 70's to today.

I came across the story of a large lodge, mistakenly built by the British Army in the bog, bought by an eccentric English man, frequented by Bryan Ferry, his kids and wife, used as a rehearsal studio for the album Avalon and used for the photo shoot of Avalon, before tragically burning down and leaving many, many memories. 

But, the location remains in a stunning, remote inlet, surrounded by lakes. Crumlin Lodge, Indreabhán, Conamara, Avalon.

Crumlin Lodge, was built by the British Army as a retreat for officers. The Lodge was completed in 1912 and, although the Lodge was built in the Connemara bog, it was mostly made from wood. It seems this lodge was destined to create a story. The British engineers were also building a similar lodge in India, also as a recreational stop for Officers. 

However, the stone material destined for Connemara was mixed-up with the wooden structure allocated for India and the wooden material landed in Rosmuc, Connemara. The engineers ploughed on and built Crumlin Lodge, from wood, in the middle of the bog.

Well, there is quite a bit more to this story. Soon to be filled in. 

From 1922 the Lodge passed between a number of owners until Mr Partick Helmore, an English man and retired Insurance Broker, purchased the Lodge in the 1960's. Initially Patrick used the Lodge as a summer retreat and he finally moved there, to live, in the late 1970's. His children had all grown at that stage.

From 1980 Mr Helmores daughter, Lucy, often visited with her future husband, Bryan Ferry. They fell in love with Crumlin Lodge. Bringing their children on extended trips. Crumlin Lodge became a place of creativity for Ferry and he decided to bring his band over, Roxy Music.

They recorded at the lodge, they frequented the local public houses and they developed the concept for Avalon, the Album. 

Bryan Ferry was always interested in all aspects of design, concept and art and employed the Worlds top models to appear on the Album covers for most of Roxy Music releases in the 80's and 90's.   

Similar to the Album Sirens, Ferry wanted to tell a story in the Album cover and utilise his own skills as Art Director on shooting the pieces.

Avalon was no different.

The Album cover features Lough Ugga Beag. A full crew supported the Photographer, Neil Kirk. The Costume and styling was by Anthony Price and, of course, Bryan Ferry was listed as the Art Director. 'Following in the Roxy Music tradition of using iconic females on their album covers, it was decided this time to depict a Celtic warrior queen, gazing towards Avalon. She is wearing medieval armour and holding a Merlin (a small bird of prey commonly used by lady falconers). The photograph was taken at dawn' at Crumlin Lodge in 1982. The Model is Lucy Hilmore. 

Taken by me @ Ugga Mór

Slightly different aspect

Martin played with the Ferry children and was there through the time Roxy Music visited the area. His family became close to the Helmores.

Crumlin Lodge has many secrets and there is more to come, however, I will finish this piece off with an extract from The Irish Time and maybe some day you will drop to Spiddal or Indreabhán for a chat :-)  

Crumlin Lodge Fire  -  The Irish Times November 13, 1997

A retired insurance broker living in Connemara died when fire engulfed his home, a lakeside fishing lodge, early yesterday morning. Mr Patrick Helmore (73) had lived alone in the two-storey house, Crumlin Lodge, near Inverin. The blaze destroyed the building.

Mr Helmore had been semi-invalid. His daughter Lucy was married to the singer Bryan Ferry, a regular visitor to the wooden lodge during the early 1980s.

Mr Ferry featured the lodge on the cover of his 1982 Avalon album, which reached number one in the British charts. He composed some of his music there and was a regular visitor to some of the local pubs during his visits to Connemara.

The cause of the fire has not yet been established. A loud bang at 7 a.m. yesterday awoke the caretaker, Mr Martin Costello, who lives in a gate lodge on the grounds. Mr Costello raised the alarm and ran to the house, which was ablaze. He broke a window in an attempt to get inside, but was forced back by the flames.

Two units of Galway Fire Brigade spent four hours damping down the building.

Mr Helmore had been twice married. He is survived by six children.

Bryan Ferry returned to carry the coffin of Patrick Helmore to the local graveyard in Indreabhán.