Sunday 22 September 2019

The height of folly...

The Battle for Gorse Hill is destined to be remembered as a slapstick showdown - a farce-off - fought on that most perilous of topographical elevations: the height of folly.

House repossession is a grave and often harrowing business, a sad sign of tumultuous times. However, last week's stand-off on Killiney's ritzy Vico Road - between solicitor and bankrupt property investor Brian O'Donnell and the Bank of Ireland to which he owes ¤71 million - evoked widespread mirth rather than sympathy.

Delusions of grandeur are not unusual among high-flying legal eagles, a species that thrives on big talk and lofty conceit. But O'Donnell's grandiosity also seems to involve delusions of ordinariness.

By barricading himself into the house with his wife Mary Pat, the erstwhile paper-billionaire seemed determined to pose as a victim, a little guy, a standard-bearer for the dispossessed.

Newly-returned to Planet Earth himself, he appears to believe the rest of us actually came down in the last shower. Every twist and turn of the siege intensified the hilarity.

However, the tin hat was placed on the fiasco by the presence throughout of the self-styled New Land League, the most comical battalion of home guard volunteers since Dad's Army.

Jerry Beades, the movement's Captain Mainwaring, evidently regards himself as a serious fellow with important things to say about the state of the nation.

But, in truth, his grip on reality was most memorably expressed by his eye-popping description of O'Donnell's palatial fortress as "a bog-standard house".

The implosion of the property boom was an undoubted tragedy for many homeowners but, as last week's hillside high-jinx reminded us, there was also a funny side.

Forced eviction may have been the saga's nominal theme but the real moral of the story involved the incoming tenants.

Ultimately, this was a tale of chickens coming home to roost.

Indo Review

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