When Barney Coleman revealed he was going to build a replica Elvis Presley mansion near Magherafelt, what did his family and friends say?
“Well, they didn’t say an awful lot,” the 61-year-old told the News Letter.
“They knew the sort of me, anyway. They knew I was a great Elvis fan, and they knew I could do it eventually if I wanted to do it.
“So, I just did it.”
The mansion he created – plus the surrounding grounds, including a nine-hole golf course – is currently up for sale with an asking price of £1.2m.
Barney, a semi-retired carpenter, started building it about three years ago.
The married father-of-three used to be an Elvis impersonator himself, but is “getting a bit old for it now”.
Asked how alike his own creation is to the original American mansion, he said: “It’s pretty close ‘til it. It’s not identical – but it’s as close as I can get it.
“I’ve been there myself, I’ve seen Elvis’ place, and I just knew I could build it.”
The real Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee – which stands on 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, and is on the US National Register of Historic Places – was the place of the singer’s death in 1977 aged 42.
It has been a museum since the early 1980s, and last week became a place of pilgrimage for fans marking the 40th anniversary of his passing.
The Northern Irish property is called Traad Ponds, and located at 179 Shore Road to the south-east of Magherafelt, not far from the western shore of Lough Neagh.
It has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and five fishing ponds, plus planning permission for two cottages.
It was initially conceived as a clubhouse for the roughly 30-to-40 member golf club which Barney created about 20 years ago, on sandy scrubland he said was not ideal for farming.
The mansion building is empty inside, and could be altered depending whether it is used as a home, hotel, wedding venue, or anything else.
Barney lives in a bungalow nearby, “nowhere near” as impressive as his Elvis mansion.
He used to run a carpentry business employing about 25 people, and though he oversaw the work on the mansion, a number of labourers – plus his own sons – were put to work on the project.
As to how much it cost, he said: “Naw, I couldn’t tell you that at all whatsoever, because I’ve been working at it myself and doing lots of things.
“I never even put a price on it to be quite honest.
“And it’s not even finished yet. There’s nothing done inside it at all. You can play five-a-side football upstairs.”
He said that, besides a brief week-long listing on the market last year, the house has been up for sale for about the last three months.
It is being marketed by Ivan Henry, joint owner of Turning Point estate agency in Enniskillen. He said there have been six inquiries so far, none of them from overseas.
Despite last week being the anniversary of Elvis’ death (and the mansion having featured in the Irish News and The Times of London), the past several days have seen no further inquiries.
Barney suggested that “if you know any moneyed people out there that’s looking a nice 30-acre estate”, his would fit the bill.
Asked who his likely buyer may be, Barney said the estate may be a bit small for the likes of Donald Trump, but “the world’s a wee place now with the internet”.
“You wouldn’t know,” he said. “Maybe a bunch of Chinese boys might come over and buy it and I could look after it for them.”