FILM director John Boorman is said by friends to have split from his wife, Isabella.
The couple have not been seen together near or around Boorman’s home in a village near Roundwood, Co Wicklow as she is believed to have moved into a Dublin address with property developer Adrian McFeeley – who owned a 100-year-old mill a few hundred yards from Boorman’s home.
Although Boorman and South American-born Isabella regularly attended the annual Christmas lights ceremony together in previous years – which is held just a few hundred yards from their front gates – they were conspicuous by their absence on Friday night.
And while she was a regular visitor to shops like Kavanagh’s butchers or the Cottage Food Store, staff there admitted they hadn’t seen her for “months”.
The couple – who have three children – met when Isabella worked as his secretary and then became his second wife when they married in 1995.
She worked as a researcher on his 1998 TV film Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait by John Boorman and last year became a director in a film and video production company called KI Films.
The Boormans first met McFeeley – who was believed to been married to Spanish-born wife Rosa – more than six years ago, when he began renovating a century-old mill he bought in Annamoe, near Boorman’s remote Wicklow estate.
McFeeley only returned to Ireland recently after living in Spain and had been renting a property a few hundred yards from the Boormans.
Following the split, 40-year-old Isabella – according to neighbours – moved into a house in Monkstown that McFeely inherited from his mother.
Boorman – whose string of hit films include Where the Heart Is, The General, Point Blank, Deliverance and Excalibur – is said to be devastated by the split but last night he was remaining tight-lipped at his home.
When asked about the split, he simply said through the intercom at the end of his long drive: “I don’t want to talk about it.”
A friend, who asked not to be named, said last night: “John is devastated. He just didn’t see this coming and he is taking it hard.”
Father-of-six, Boorman has made little secret of his own past indiscretions, or his attitude to relationships.
In an interview in 2003, he admitted: “I’m probably quite controlling in my relationships. I like to know everything that is going on.”
And he added: that – at the grand age of 70 – he had “only just starting to understand women.”
He said in his autobiography Adventures of a Suburban Boy that his marriage to first wife Christel Kruse – which ended in 1990 – turned out to be “combustible and exhausting” while a friend of the director is said to have described it as “a continuation of the Second World War by other means”.
Despite their difficulties, the marriage lasted 39 years and produced four children – Katrine, Charley, Daisy and Telsche – who tragically died of ovarian cancer.
Boorman also revealed in the book a liaison with a young married woman called Alison Smith – the woman he would later make his 1964 six-part BBC TV series The Newcomers about – while he was still wed to Kruse.
He said that although he had a passionate friendship with her, the couple agreed not to sleep with each other so as not to “betray” either of their marriages.
But Boorman was caught kissing Smith by her husband Anthony, who said nothing after stumbling across the couple, left the room but later left a note for him, which read “You are a shit.”
On his first marriage, he later said in an interview: “I think I had a very clear idea about marriage. Exclusivity was always a problem for me.
“I mean, I think that marriage closes you off to some extent, particularly if you’ve got children – it becomes a very closed nuclear group.
“It tends to exclude other people. And of course in my work I’m dealing with people all the time. Whenever I made a movie, we always travelled as a family. That was very important to me.”
Of the split, a local resident who knows both Boorman and Isabella said: “All the village is talking about it.
“Although nobody has actually come out and confirmed the marriage is in trouble and that there is another man involved, it has become common knowledge.”