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Saturday 3 December 2016

Priory Hall builder lives in luxury at former German embassy on Ailesbury Road

Edel O'Connell and Luke Byrne

Published 19/10/2011 | 05:00

The magnificent house owned by developer Tom McFeely on Ailesbury
Road in Dublin 4
The magnificent house owned by developer Tom McFeely on Ailesbury Road in Dublin 4
Builder Tom McFeely at his home in Ballsbridge, holding the Celtic cross featuring the 10 dead IRA/INLA hunger strikers
The house is a former German embassy which was once valued at €15m
Yesterday a 4x4 was parked on blocks in the driveway outside the house
Residents of of Priory Hall are now staying at the Regency Hotel, Dublin
Niamh Ryan and son Clyde (7), Priory Hall residents, at the Regency Hotel yesterday

THIS is the magnificent house owned by ex-hunger striker turned millionaire property developer Thomas McFeely and his wife Nina.

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The resplendent mansion, complete with solid marble fireplaces, ornate ceilings and glimmering chandeliers, is located at the capital's exclusive Ailesbury Road. It is a former German embassy which was once valued at €15m.

Taking centre stage at this palatial property is Mr McFeely's huge Celtic cross, engraved with the faces of 10 of his dead hunger-striking comrades.

Mr McFeely's rags-to-riches story -- from militant republican to millionaire -- has been as widely covered in the media as it has been marred by controversy.

The son of a cattle dealer, he was born in Dungiven, Co Derry, into a family of 13.

He was in London working as a bricklayer when the civil rights marchers were beaten off Derry's streets in October 1968. He went home to Northern Ireland and joined the IRA.

A die-hard republican, Mr McFeely endured 53 days on the first hunger-strike in the H-Blocks. The following year, 10 IRA and INLA prisoners died on the second strike.

Things were so tight when he was released from prison in 1989 that he said he spent his first night in the capital asleep in a car, with just IR£240 to his name,

Twenty years later, Tom McFeely, multi-millionaire property developer, had the keys to his Ailesbury Road mansion.

Ruined

When visited at this home by a journalist in 2009, he boasted how he "hadn't bothered" hanging an original Picasso etching that he owned.

Among the extensive property portfolio he built up over the years was a €6m holiday home on the Algarve, where he also owned a hotel.

Mr McFeely was involved in a number of building projects in the Republic, London and Manchester.

On Monday Mr McFeely came face to face with the angry residents of Priory Hall, the shoddily built complex that he developed, which has since had to be evacuated.

He told the furious apartment owners and tenants that he had been "ruined" by the property crash.

Asked where he lived, he first said he lived mostly "on a plane".

He later told the residents: "You might have lost a proportion of your apartment. I have lost everything but I've got to keep going.

"I'll tell you something and this may satisfy some of the begrudgery. The bank has taken my house anyway. Happy days."

The Irish Independent has since learned that ACC Bank registered a judgment against the Ailesbury Road property last year, along with 18 other properties connected to Mr McFeely and his companies.

This effectively gives the bank the right to sell the property.

However, Mr McFeely still legally owns the property and is entitled to reside there for now.

There was no answer when this newspaper called to his home yesterday but Mr McFeely's beloved Celtic cross was visible in the window.

Irish Independent

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