Firefly Estate (Noel Coward’s Jamaica House) is located east of Oracabessa, in St Mary, Jamaica. The home and burial place of British Playwright Sir Noel Coward. It is now listed as a National Heritage Site by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust The site was originally owned by the infamous pirate and one-time governor of Jamaica, Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688). Cabarita Lookout Villa
(Bottom-right in focus. Not Firely Estate) Firefly then, was called “Look Out” by the famous pirate Henry Morgan because it had been used for that purpose. The property offered a commanding view of the Port Maria harbour, and Morgan used it as a lookout. Also a part of the hideaway, Morgan dug a secret escape tunnel. Noel Coward discovered the site while on an excursion in the area. He purchased the property and built the house which now stands on it. He renamed it Firefly Hill because of the little glowing insects (fireflies) seen on the property. In Jamaica, fireflies are called “blinkies” or “peenie wallies.” Sir Coward died at Firefly on 26 March 1973, at age 73, after having written many of his famous plays there. The stone hut on the lawn was once a lookout for pirate Henry Morgan, then converted to a bar by Sir Noel. It is now a gift shop and restaurant. And is buried under a marble slab in the garden, near the spot where he would sit at dusk watching the sun set as he sipped his brandy with ginger ale chaser and looked out to sea. Noel Coward Statue He was buried on his favourite spot! Firefly estate has entertained a wide range of guests:- Both the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II,
Sir Winston Churchill,
Lord Olivier, Sophia Loren,
Dame Elizabeth Taylor,
Sir Alec Guinness,
Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton,
Ruth Bryan Owen
and Ian Fleming plus more… The house, built in 1956, often entertained jet-setters and royalty. Firefly Estate is a perfect wedding destination. Paintings and photographs of his coterie of famous friends, such as Laurence Olivier, Errol Flynn and Marlene Dietrich are at the Firefly Art Studio/Museum. Coward wrote in his diary: “Firefly has given me the most valuable benison of all: time to read and write and think and get my mind in order . . . I love this place, it deeply enchants me. Whatever happens to this silly world, nothing much is likely to happen here.” Writing, he believed, came easier when he was here. He continued “the sentences seemed to construct themselves, the right adjectives appeared discretely at the right moment. Firefly has magic for me. . . ” On one of Firefly’s walls is written his last poem.
When I have fears, as Keats had fears,
Of the moment I’ll cease to be,
I console myself with vanished years,
Remembered laughter, remembered tears,
And the peace of the changing sea.