Tuesday 21 February 2017

The folks who lived on Gorse Hill

Bankruptcy is purgatory and the dogs are gone but one year since the Killiney Hill seige, Brian and Blake O'Donnell battle on

Published 24/04/2016 | 02:30

A hill to climb: Brian O'Donnell and his son Blake outside court last week. The family has vowed to never give up its legal battle with Bank of Ireland Photo: David Conachy
A hill to climb: Brian O'Donnell and his son Blake outside court last week. The family has vowed to never give up its legal battle with Bank of Ireland Photo: David Conachy

This time last year, the siege of Gorse Hill drew to a whimpering close. The once minted Brian O'Donnell exited the grand gates of the €7m clifftop retreat in Killiney that had been the family home for the last time. He drove straight to Bank of Ireland's annual general meeting, and tossed the keys of his seized mansion at Richie Boucher, its chief executive, in a staged stunt, declaring: "here are the keys to Gorse Hill you spent €9m trying to get".

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One year on, the €7m mansion lies empty, mired in litigation preventing its sale. Brian O'Donnell, the former solicitor turned property developer, likens life in bankruptcy to "purgatory", his daughter Blaise has had to give up her beloved dogs and the family keeps on losing to the bank down at the Four Courts.

Yet the O'Donnell family ploughs on. The former billionaire property developer, Brian O'Donnell, and his son, Blake, will be resuming their front row seats at Bank of Ireland's AGM on Thursday. He won't be repeating the stunt that made him the star turn at last year's event. Instead the once minted O'Donnells will be urging distressed mortgage holders with Bank of Ireland to turn up at its annual general meeting this week to get their cases "noticed" by its executives.

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