| 5.8°C Dublin

My mansion meeting with the Celtic Tiger hero who boasted the Midas touch

GER Killally was at the height of his powers when I drove to his enormous home to interview him in 2004. He was the new chairman of Offaly County Council and a man whose political and business graphs were on a steadily upward trend.

Located not far from Edenderry, one of those fast-growing Celtic Tiger towns booming because Dublin was less than 40 miles away, the Killally home was a structure befitting the soar-ahead economy, grand in scale, as much a statement of success as a dwelling.

No expense was spared. The front yard was so big one would not know where to park. Near the front door or beside the stables?

The deck at the rear jutted out not from the ground floor but from the first. There were plans for a swimming pool but they were never realised.

A childminder opened the door and an expansive hall was revealed; on its walls were professionally-shot and framed family photos, and in one corner a chess set with strikingly large figures.

Councillor Ger Killally's study was lavishly furnished and there was no doubting the courtesy of the man as we sat down for the work at hand, a profile of his career thus far, a story which was still developing, and developing fast.

Of course he was late, even though he only had to travel the short distance from his office in Edenderry. Meetings had backed up, his secretary had told me, and during our interview his mobile phone rang constantly and he took numerous calls from business associates.

A two-time FF Dail candidate by then, he was seen as the man with the connections and he made his money setting up partnerships and consortia for investment in land.

Some who knew him for a lot longer than I were a little puzzled by his meteoric rise. But who would doubt the credentials of a man who ran for the Dail alongside a Minister, Brian Cowen; whose business partner was Richie Connor, an All-Ireland football captain; and among whose investors was a retired garda superintendent.

He was seen as the man with the Midas touch, the kind of individual who was likely to have said he would be a millionaire by 30.

It is said he managed it by the age of 29.

By his mid-30s he was worth more than €30m. The day I met him, he was involved in two hotel projects in Offaly.

Neither was ever finished. One, the Plaza in Edenderry, is a concrete frame to this day, while the other, in Tullamore, has become an occasional target for vandals.

The auctioneering business is gone, too. One of his main offices, in Tullamore, had a glitzy opening where Hector O hEochagain was the star turn and the drink flowed generously. That premises was eventually taken over by a bank and it fell into disrepair.

Of course, a man whose jeep boasted the registration OY1 and whose wife's Naomi was OY2, would make enemies and become an obvious target.

But when word filtered through yesterday that Killally - who had been harassed and threatened before - had been shot at in front of his children, there was sympathy for him.

Yes, the Commercial Court had found against him, and he had been convicted of theft in the Circuit Court. But subjecting a father and his children to that ordeal is a step way beyond any bounds of decency.

– Gearoid Keegan


Privacy