Local History by Seán Beattie


Letterkenny’s Rock Icon

Pattie Boyd, whose family once owned Ballymacool House, Letterkenny. 
Pattie Boyd

The Boyds of Ballymacool House, Letterkenny have a unique connection with the world of pop music and with the Beatles in particular. Ballymacool is now a fully developed estate on the outskirts of Letterkenny but Ballymacool House is in a state of disrepair, unroofed and pretty gaunt, shorn of its former glory. The building has a long history starting in 1783 when John Boyd bought the lands and built the house which was the hub of commercial and business life in the town. He had several sons, some of whom held high office in the county. Their descendants had successful careers in the media, literature, maritime affairs and public administration. One of John’s sons, Archibald Boyd was born in Letterkenny in 1755. Archibald’s great-great-great granddaughter is Pattie Boyd, who lives in London and this is a brief outline of her ascent to fame and how she managed to carve out her place in the world of pop music.

Pattie Boyd got married recently in London and this has brought the association with Ballymacool, the Beatles and music history into focus once again. Born in Somerset, Patti started life as a model and worked on the set of A Hard Day’s Night in which she played the role of a school girl. Aged 21, she befriended George Harrison, a year older, as he too was involved in the Beatles’ first film. He wrote the song Something for her. It is said that she inspired three of the greatest love songs of all time, the others being Wonderful Tonight and Layla. After her marriage to George Harrison broke up, she subsequently married Eric Clapton. She now has the distinction of being the sole surviving first wife of a Beatle.

Now 71, Patti recently married 61-year old Rod Weston and they live in Kensington. The Daily Mail broke the news with the heading “Pattie Boyd, the ultimate rock chick, weds at 71”. The marriage took place in a venue which has seen some great rock marriages, Chelsea Registry Office on King’s Road. Apart from the Bentley that took them to the Beaumont Hotel in Mayfair, there were none of the trappings of celebrity. It was a far cry from the covers of Vogue and the heady 1960s when she was one of the best-known faces on the London music scene and mingled with members of one of the world’s greatest pop bands. Her links with Donegal are not forgotten and she was featured in an article in Donegal Annual in 2007, written by Brian Boyd, a cousin, who also lives in London. Pattie has recorded her memories in a book, Wonderful Today. It is a long way from Ballymacool to the streets of Mayfair but it is worth remembering that, in the world of modern music with its highly commercial and competitive edges, a descendant of the Letterkenny Boyds from Ballymacool has firmly etched her place in the crowded annals of pop music and that is something of which Letterkenny can be proud.  Sean Beattie.


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