Limerick solicitor Brian O’Donnell leaves €6m mansion

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Pat. Picture courtesy Cyril Byrne/THE IRISH TIMES
AN EMBATTLED solicitor and property developer from Limerick has left his Killiney mansion and is due to appear before the Four Courts today in relation to trespassing at the €6m property.

AN EMBATTLED solicitor and property developer from Limerick has left his Killiney mansion and is due to appear before the Four Courts today in relation to trespassing at the €6m property.

The High Court has refused an attempt by the family of Brian O’Donnell, originally from the Ennis Road in Limerick, to stop receivers repossessing the family home, which he insists is in his children’s names.

Mr O’Donnell, who attended the Crescent College Comprehensive, was known as a talented rugby player in the city, while his brothers Hugh, Richard and Robin still live locally.

Mr Justice McGovern gave the bank permission to serve papers for a trespass injunction on the couple yesterday. He has been pictured leaving the property this Thursday morning in a Jaguar, but it is understood his wife, Mary Pat, has remained inside the home.

After the couple barricaded themselves inside the property since Monday - when his children were ordered to vacate the property - his solicitor son Blake was also instructed by the courts to telephone his parents to tell them to leave their hilltop mansion, which counts many celebrities including Bono and Enya as neighbours.

“I’m sure you as a solicitor know, and I’m sure your father as a former solicitor knows the consequences of frustrating court orders,” said Justice McGovern.

Mr O’Donnell, the high-profile legal eagle, had barricaded himself inside their home, once valued at €30m, since Monday, arguing that their four children are legally entitled to the house.

The New Land League, which claims to protect people at risk of eviction from their homes, regardless of their level of wealth, has been at the property since the start of the week, and barricaded the entrance with a vehicle to the front of the gates. The group drew criticism from the public last night after describing the property as a “bog standard house”

They have also been accused by broadcaster Vincent Browne and other media commentators for using this case for their own self promotion.

It remains to be seen whether they will have a presence outside Limerick Circuit Court this Friday, where over 200 cases for home repossession are due to be heard.

TV3 broadcaster and Limerick native Vincent Browne gained entry to the grounds this Wednesday, describing it as “the most spectacular place I’ve seen, certainly in Ireland.

“Charlie Haughey’s house was far exceeded in lavishness by this house, [it] was worth a fraction of what this house is worth.

“The rich are trying to escape the consequences of their own excesses. You have this idiot Land League thing defending them; it is absolutely extraordinary.”

A bank-appointed receiver was last month given a court order to take possession of the €6 million house by February 1, against the wishes of the adult children of Mr O’Donnell.

Mr O’Donnell and his wife were being pursued for a debt of €71.5m by Bank of Ireland when the bank began court proceedings to repossess their home.

Last month, the couple’s children – Blaise, Blake, Bruce and Alexandra – were given until this Monday to leave the property overlooking Killiney Bay, and while they left the property, the couple stayed on in the house at Gorse Hill, on the Vico Road, aided by the New Land League.

The palatial property, which includes an outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts, was acquired in 1997/98 for nearly €1.4 million as the O’Donnell family residence in what was part of a “very complex legal structure”.

The six-bedroom house also boasts a gym and sauna, snooker room and wine store.

The O’Donnell couple built up a global property empire worth close to €1billion (£732million) at the height of the boom, which has since collapsed and many of their assets have been sold.

In September 2013, the couple were declared bankrupt by the High Court in Dublin, despite their claim to have moved their ‘centre of main interest’ for business purposes to London, but appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which was rejected. In December last the Supreme Court ruled the four siblings can no longer lay any claim to Gorse Hill.