Co Derry Elvis fan builds replica Graceland for icon who is "next to God in music"

Barney Coleman at his replica Graceland outside Ballyronan in Co Derry. Picture by Hugh Russell
Marie Louise McConville

WHILE thousands of Elvis fans are expected to descend on his famous Memphis home today to mark the 40th anniversary of his death, one Co Derry businessman won't have far to go after building his own replica Graceland.

Barney Coleman (61) took his love for the King of Rock 'n' Roll to an entirely new level after spending three years working on the project which now stands as a spectacular 5,000 sq ft mansion near Ballyronan.

Barney, a former Elvis impersonator who is a carpenter by trade, fell in love with Graceland after visiting Memphis a decade ago.

Initially he set out to build a new clubhouse for a nine-hole golf course - Traad Ponds - which sits on the same 30-acre site but decided to extend his plans to include a replica of Graceland.

Visitors are greeted at the site by a replica set of Elvis's famous sheet-music gates.

Fans are then immediately drawn to the well-recognised large Graceland pillars which adorn the entrance to the mansion.

Mr Coleman has also replicated the same famous Graceland cladding, green shutters, stain-glass detail around the front door, ornamental lions and garden seats out front.

Having once worked as an Elvis impersonator, Mr Coleman said he has been a fan of Elvis - who died at Graceland on August 16, 1977 - since he was 13.

"He's got a velvet voice," he said.

"No man will touch him in music. I put him next to God in music," he said.

Mr Coleman, who has now put the house and the 30-acre site up for sale, said he had done most of the work himself.

"This was supposed to be a new clubhouse," he said.

"I was out at Graceland and on the internet, you are able to get the layouts. If anything, the house is fractionally bigger than Elvis's.

"A lot of people drive out on a Sunday and take photos of it. They just think it's ideal. There's even women have come and had wedding photos.

"I get good comments saying it's one of the nicest place they have seen in the country.

"It's a nice, big humble house. There is nothing extravagant about it.

Mr Coleman was also inspired by Elvis when he bought his 1962 Cadillac Couple de Ville, the same car bought by singer in 1967 after he married Priscilla Presley.

"I like old American cars and I hope to get another one or two down the line," he said.

"I was an Elvis impersonator five or six years ago. I just love his music and some people said I was quite good at it".

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