Detox with the stars in Ireland
Priory clinic to open for rehab in Moyglare Manor
IT’S become the ultimate celebrity badge of honour: a stint in the Priory, an addiction clinic the rich and famous aren’t ashamed to been seen in. Robbie Williams dropped in on his 33rd birthday for help with his “dependency on prescription drugs”, Lindsay Lohan has used it to recover from excess partying, and Jade Goody fled there to escape the public backlash over racist remarks on Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother.
Now if they are made to go to rehab, Ireland’s stars may be able to check in closer to home. The Priory clinic intends to open a facility in Ireland next year, housed in the Georgian splendour of Moyglare Manor in Co Kildare. Plans are at an advanced stage for a 45-bed facility on the estate, a 30-minute drive from Dublin.
Irish celebrities are among those who have taken refuge at the Priory. Sinead O’Connor checked into the London hospital while Paul McGrath, a former Irish international footballer, tried to address his drinking problems by going to its clinic in Manchester.
Guests at the southwest London clinic, where patients pay approximately £4,000 (€4,290) a week, have included Kate Moss, Paul Gascoigne, Kerry Katona and Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.
“It’s a bit like eating at the Ivy,” Julian Linley, Heat magazine’s editor, once said. “There are lots of other great restaurants to go to, but people chose it because it’s the familiar and easy place to go . . . it’s close to central London so all your friends and family can come to visit you.”
The Priory Group’s website says that its purpose “is to work with our patients, residents and students, and their families and friends, to enable them to take control of their lives”.
As well as daily visits from a psychiatrist, patients can take part in tai-chi, yoga, aerobic classes, swimming, aromatherapy and shiatsu massage. Virginia Ironside, a British writer and agony aunt treated for depression at the Priory, said it was “like a luxurious health farm, the only difference being that everyone in it is deeply disturbed or unhappy”.
In recession-hit Ireland, the timing could be appropriate as the clinic aims to treat depression as well as conditions such as alcohol, drug and gambling addictions and eating disorders. Those celebrities who do not want to leak details of their stay will have privacy: Moyglare is hidden from the road.
Built in 1780, it hosted the wedding meal of health minister Mary Harney and her husband Brian Geoghegan in 2005. Moyglare Manor is in good condition, but its new owners plan to invest millions in revamping the hotel to provide medical-treatment services. Work is expected to begin next year.
Private Wealth Managers (PWM), the investment advisors, acquired the 13-acre site in recent days. Noel Daly, chairman of the Health Partnership, advised on the deal. The Priory International, the group’s overseas arm, will operate the facility, owned by PWM clients. The Priory is understood to be in talks with an Irish psychiatrist to lead the centre. It has held talks with VHI Healthcare about insurance for members.
While celebrities are the most high profile element of the Priory’s business, most patients are ordinary people with private health insurance. The Priory intends to engage with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to treat public patients in the future. The clinic points out that more than 75% of care is publicly-funded.
Justin Hawkins, former singer with The Darkness, said of his stint at the London hospital: “I thought I’d go in, do a lap of the grounds and come back out. But I got in there and broke down. I was shaking like a leaf and going through cold turkey. So I joined the month-long addiction treatment programme. It was exhausting.
“People have this unfair view of places like the Priory as a holiday camp for celebrities. But the work they do is so important. There were people from all walks of life — housewives and builders. We had nothing in common other than drink and drugs but I made friends for life.”
The group’s move to Kildare is part of a major overseas drive. It hopes to open 30 new facilities in the next five years.
# Tom Lyons
# Times Online
# December 21, 2008