A cross between Jean Paul Sartre and Charles Aznavour

Paul Chatenoud

At his graveside, Paul Chatenoud was described as 'a poet, a creator, a farmer, a conformist, an anticonformist, an anarchist, a Catholic, a free man, a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and an artist whose masterpiece was his life '.

Paul Chatenoud, French philosopher and lover of Ireland.

Born: July 15, 1940; died: January 29, 2014.

-  The Irish Times

Paul Chatenoud, who has died at the age of 73, was a much-loved French resident of Ardara in Donegal, owner/proprietor of The Green Gate (An Geata Glas), a popular bed and breakfast.

A philosopher and musicologist, he was once memorably described as a cross between Jean Paul Sartre and Charles Aznavour 'with the furrowed face of a philosopher but the twinkling eyes of an entertainer.'

Born in Casablanca, to a father who was an agriculturalist, he was the second youngest of six children. His mother died when he was two and his father married again and had six more children.

At 17 he joined a shipping company in Casablanca and moved to Paris after his Baccalaureate to study philosophy at the Sorbonne under Vladimir Jankélévitch.

After leaving university he became sales director of an industrial machinery company with responsibility for Ireland and the UK.

In Paris he took up singing lessons, learning German and Italian in order to understand libretti. In the late 1970s he opened Librairie Musicale near Notre Dame, the first bookshop in Paris specialising in music.

In 1983 he decided to come to Ireland to write a book on philosophy and rented a cottage at Loughros Point. The urge to stay became so great that in 1988 he sold his shop and his apartment on the Ile St Louis and bought – somewhat on the spur of the moment – a 200-year-old cottage outside Ardara, which he renovated and eventually opened as a bed and breakfast.

He attracted visitors from all over the world and many reviews and features in leading English and French newspapers and magazines. His book The Eye of the Ventriloquist was finally completed a few years ago and recently translated into English.

His Requiem Mass, celebrated by his friend Fr Pascal McDonnell, drew a huge attendance of locals, relatives and friends from Paris.

By special permission he was buried in the l8th-century Kilternan graveyard just below his cottage. 

Read full obituary: Obituary: French philosopher who fell in love with Donegal (The Irish Times)

Related coverage:

Death of Paul Chatenoud, Ardara (The Donegal Democrat)

The Eye of the Ventriloquist  (www.theeyeoftheventriloquist.eu)

Ireland: A touch of garlic in the Irish stew, 2002 (The Telegraph)

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