THE pensioner and his wife forcibly evicted from their palatial home are major landlords -- with a nationwide portfolio of apartments.
Brendan (71) and Asta Kelly (63) had their home in one of Dublin's most exclusive neighbourhoods repossessed on Wednesday after failing to pay off a €2m mortgage from Anglo Irish Bank.
Bailiffs dragged the couple from the lavish detached five-bedroom house in St Matthias Wood, Killiney, Co Dublin. They have since been camped outside the property in protest.
The Irish Independent has learned their former home is just one of at least 18 different properties they bought around the country in an acquisitions binge since the early 1990s.
Mr Kelly, an ex-accountant, last night denied the couple had been the authors of their own misfortune, saying everybody in the country pushed themselves too far financially during the boom years.
"Everybody in Ireland overstretched, we didn't buy all of our properties during the boom.
"A lot of them were bought before the boom," Mr Kelly said
The couple insisted they were unable to move into one of their other properties as these were all currently leased out.
"Those properties are let and people have leases and cannot be disturbed. I am a landlord by profession and those properties are let," Mr Kelly said.
And the couple claimed it had been impossible to sell off any of their apartments to help pay the Anglo debt because of the depressed property market.
Mrs Kelly said the couple had put their Killiney home on the market two years ago but were unable to sell it.
Records indicate the couple borrowed heavily just before the financial collapse.
Five of their apartments -- three in Dublin, one in Carlow and another in Limerick -- were remortgaged in March 2008. A sixth apartment, in Dublin, was remortgaged that September.
All of the borrowings were with Irish Life & Permanent.
The couple also took a mortgage out against nine other apartments, all in Dublin, with IL&P in June 2007.
Some of the properties are in Dublin's leafy neighbourhoods -- Donnybrook, Ballsbridge, Stillorgan and Rathmines.
A two-bedroom apartment in those suburbs is estimated to have been worth between €400,000 and €700,000 in 2008, but are now valued between €200,000 and €300,000.
Rental income from such properties is currently between €1,300 and €1,500 a month.
Sligo-born Mr Kelly and his German-born wife, a former teacher, spoke to the Irish Independent from a tent they have put up outside their former home.
Mr Kelly said the properties were meant to be the couple's retirement nest egg, and blamed bailiffs for adopting 19th century tactics.
"The bank are not doing anything illegal, what I am objecting to is 19th century eviction tactics. We were dragged out of our home -- it could have been 1860," he said.
The couple, who have been married for 40 years and don't have any children, lived in Germany for 23 years where they ran a successful business in the tourist resort of Sylt, selling Irish textiles to holidaymakers.
Mr Kelly said all his properties have dropped in value and he questioned how the couple could repay their debts.
"Property didn't just go down it crashed. You can't sell them at even a third of the price. So what are we to do, how are we supposed to pay off loans?
"We want to get back into our own house. My office is there. I have no livelihood until I get back into my home. We have to get back in and we are standing our ground."
Mr Kelly claimed he had received 44 text messages of support, and insisted they will find a way to make money again.
"Life has changed for us obviously as we are living on the street," Mr Kelly said.