Builder is laughing with mock mansion
WHO said the boom went bust? Whoever it was, they never told Roscommon developer Alan Hanly.
The last time the Sunday Independent visited Strokestown, we were stopped in our tracks by the sight of Mr Hanly's brand-new mock-Georgian mansion being built on a 53-acre site he owns just off the Dublin Road.
Last week, the work was still going on at the Hanly homestead -- a palatial pile his architects rather tastefully described as both a "substantial dwelling set within an expansive landscaped area" and a "secluded rural residence", in their original planning application in June 2005,
That the Laragan Developments chief is still working on his dream home four-and-a-half years on is impressive given all that has happened in the property world since.
Only last July, the Roscommon developer found himself on the receiving end of a roasting from Mr Justice Frank Clarke when the affairs of Mr Hanly's construction firm, Laragan Developments, came before the High Court. Refusing a rescue scheme put before him by the company's examiner, Mr Justice Clarke expressed his concern about the relationship between Laragan and Mr Hanly of the Hanly Group and raised the possibility that Laragan was merely acting as a "vehicle of convenience for Mr Hanly".
While the developer's ears might have been burning at the very suggestion, his pain was nothing compared to that of Laragan's 157 creditors. Among the biggest losers in the affair were the 95 homebuyers who, at the height of the property boom, put down deposits of €15,000 and €20,000 apiece to secure apartments built by Laragan Developments in Milners Square and Carrickmines Green in south Dublin.
Included in the examiner's proposals rejected by Mr Justice Clarke last July was an offer to refund €150 or €200 depending on the amount paid. Unsurprisingly, the offer provoked both anger and upset, with one prospective apartment buyer even breaking down in tears in an earlier court appearance. Paul McCann, of Dublin-based accountancy firm Grant Thornton, was formally appointed as liquidator to Laragan Developments on July 31 of last year.
And within weeks of Mr McCann's appointment, another of the Roscommon builder's companies was in the news for all the wrong reasons. This time, it was the turn of Mr Hanly's Sagamu Developments, who found itself being pursued by Anglo Irish Bank for the recovery of monies advanced to it by way of mortgages in May 2005 and March 2007. As the newly-nationalised lender ramped up its efforts to get the money back, Mr Hanly found a receiver being appointed to seven houses in Kilmacanogue that Sagamu Developments had offered by way of security at the time of drawing down the money.
But for Mr Hanley himself there is a safe haven from life's troubles in remote Roscommon -- where home sweet home is this mock-Georgian mansion.