Controversial Gorse Hill goes on sale for €8.5m

Ex-owners of Killiney property fought lengthy legal battle with bank on loan repayments

Gorse Hill, the controversial home at the centre of a long-running and bitter ownership battle between Brian and Dr Mary Pat O'Donnell and Bank of Ireland, has gone on sale asking €8.5million.

The 10,000sq ft property situated on exclusive Vico Road in south county Dublin is being sold through joint agents Sherry FitzGerald and Knight Frank on behalf of receiver Tom Kavanagh for Bank of Ireland.

The receiver sale has been described as “unencumbered”, meaning no outstanding legal issues are attached to the property and any purchase will be outright.

The Killiney property on two acres with a tennis court, swimming pool, gym and sauna sits on one of the finest coastal sites in Dublin a few doors up from the home of U2 singer Bono.


The O’Donnells and their four adult children, Blaise, Blake, Bruce and Alexandra became locked in a bitter legal dispute with Bank of Ireland between 2011 and 2016 as the bank sought repayment of €71.5 million in property-related loans.

The O’Donnells argued the family home once valued at about €21 million was held in trust for the children via an Isle of Man company called Vico Ltd and a succession of court appearances and appeals and counter appeals ensued.


By March 2015, the battle to stop Bank of Ireland repossessing the property had deteriorated to such an extent that solicitor Brian O'Donnell sought the support of anti-repossession group, the New Land League, to mount a high-profile and very public resistance when bailiffs arrived at the gates of the property.

In a somewhat farcical scenario Brian O’Donnell, a solicitor who at one point had amassed a property empire valued at €1 billion that included office blocks and apartment buildings in Canary Wharf and Washington DC, locked himself inside the house, while the media and Land League protestors camped outside the electric gates of the property.

The O’Donnells purchased a dated property at Gorse Hill in 1997 for just more than €1 million, and later added an adjoining parcel of land. They then set about replacing it with a lavish six-bed property, and spared no expense on the craftsmanship from the extensive bespoke joinery throughout to elaborate decorative plasterwork on the ceilings and centre roses.

Latest valuation

The O’Donnells lived there between 2000 and 2011 before moving to England and leaving it in the hands of their four children.

Gorse Hill has now been entirely cleared for sale with no trace whatsoever of the previous owners. At least €70,000 has been spent preparing the property for sale – with the pool covered over with decking, the house painted inside and out, and the interiors staged, while the overgrown garden has been cut back.

The latest valuation at €8.5 million still makes Gorse Hill one of the most expensive properties for sale in the State, but values it below Sorrento House – visible in the distance – which at 8,000sq ft sold in 2015 for €10 million and stands on a smaller site.

The agents for the sale say they already have a number of parties from both within and outside Ireland lined up to view the property.

Madeleine Lyons

Madeleine Lyons

Madeleine Lyons is Property Editor of The Irish Times