Long record of troubled times at foot of Dublin mountains


KILTERNAN BACKGROUND:ON THE surface, Kilternan Golf and Country Club has all the makings of a successful hotel and sports business, from its picturesque rural setting nestled at the foot of the Dublin mountains to a captive middle-class market in south Co Dublin.

However, the business has proved a poisoned chalice for many of the those who have tried to make a success of it, and current owner Hugh O’Regan has now become its latest victim.

The hotel’s first incarnation was as the 115-acre Opperman’s Country Club, established by the experienced hotelier brothers Johnny and Willie Opperman in 1972.

A brief year later and the business was in the hands of a receiver as the depressed tourist industry took its toll and finance from a US investor fell through.

In June 1973, former supermarket owner Pat Quinn bought the business for £500,000 and invested a further £400,000 in developing the premises before reopening it as a social and sports club known as the Pat Quinn Club.

Within a year, rumours were already circulating that the business was running into trouble and by February 1974 it had been wound up with liabilities of £1 million. The complex was then sold for £440,000 to Dublin businessman Patrick Cosgrave and was relaunched as the Dublin Sports Hotel. In 1975 Ireland’s first artificial ski slope was opened on the grounds.

Next up was Hong Kong-born businessman Raymond Tsan, who took over the business in 1982 in a deal worth over £1.2 million. He spent a further £400,000 refurbishing it before reopening the hotel in 1983.

By 1987 the business had gone into receivership – again – this time on the application of merchant bank Guinness and Mahon.

That June it was sold to two Dublin businessmen – Michael Murphy and Michael Ryan – for £785,000.

A sale had originally been agreed with a company called The Blue Anchor for £850,000 but this deal was not completed by the deadline of April 9th, 1987, so it had gone back on the market. A fire broke out on April 8th and destroyed the banqueting area, and it sold at a reduced price as a result.

In the early 1990s, the premises was bought by wealthy Irish-American businessman Chuck Feeney.

The most recent link in the chain of owners is Mr O’Regan, who bought the complex, at this point known as the Kilternan Golf and Country Club, for €12.7 million in 2001.

Mr O’Regan bought up adjoining farmland, bringing the total acreage of the complex to a substantial 330 acres.

Like several of his predecessors, he decided to plough money into the redevelopment of the premises, albeit on a much grander scale than anything done before.

He received planning permission to develop the Kilternan facility into an extensive resort incorporating a 129-bedroom hotel, music studios, yoga studios, organic restaurants, a leisure and golf club, a swimming pool and a 74-unit “apart-hotel”. The project is now 90 per cent complete.

Dashaven, the company that ultimately owns the Kilternan premises, currently owes about €170 million to Irish Nationwide and €1.835 million to Ulster Bank.

Yesterday evening, the High Court appointed a liquidator to three of Mr O’Regan’s companies – Dashaven, Thomas Read Holdings and Clubko.

Thomas Read Holdings owns 4 Parliament Street in Dublin city centre. This listed building housed Thomas Read’s Cutlers but is now vacant.

Clubko owns 8 St Stephen’s Green in Dublin, which previously housed the Hibernian United Services Club.

After Mr O’Regan bought it for €10 million in 2003, a significant investment was made in refurbishing the historic building.