A plague of Matt Damon has descended upon one Irish seaside town. The New York Times reports that Damon haunts the beaches of “Ireland’s Amalfi Coast,” rattling his shopping bags from regional supermarket chains. He has become something of a local legend, materializing in pubs, at least before they closed. Residents of Dalkey, the approximately 8,000-person community where Damon and his family became stranded during the country’s coronavirus lockdown, have embraced their fate. They call the actor “Matt O’Damon” now — affectionately, according to the Times.
Apparently, Damon arrived in Dalkey in mid-March, prepared to shoot scenes for a then-forthcoming Ridley Scott film. He opted to stay put (in a large rental mansion “just a stone’s throw away” from Bono’s, per the Independent) rather than return to his Brooklyn home, which was probably smart, considering how quickly Ireland appears to have contained the first wave of its coronavirus outbreak. And now, he is all over Dalkey: jogging its rolling hills, appearing suddenly from under baseball caps, surprising his surrogate neighbors on the streets.
For their part, these neighbors seem to have embraced Damon as one of their own, scolding the Times reporter’s Facebook request for anecdotes about the actor with comments like, “Leave him be!” and “Love love the fact that everybody is looking to protect him like our own,” and “We really are the greatest of all nations.” In real-life interactions, however, the townspeople reportedly pretend not to know that Damon is famous. Now, he is simply part of Dalkey. He is Dalkey’s. And Dalkey is … his?