Irishmen buy up island of England


DUBAI INVESTMENT:IN A MOVE sure to make the state's founding fathers chuckle in their graves, an Irish consortium has emerged as the buyer of the island of England in The World development, a man-made scheme off the coast of Dubai.

Rod Stewart was rumoured to have purchased it and Richard Branson planted a Union Jack on it as part of a publicity stunt, but after two years of speculation, a group of 10 investors from Galway have confirmed that they have purchased the 11-acre island.

The deal was put together by O'Dolan International headed up by Galway-based property developer John O'Dolan. He told The Irish Timeslast night that the consortium purchased the island from Dubai master developer Nakheel for €23.5 million. The investors, mostly solicitors, accountants and barristers, paid over €2 million each for a slice of the island.

"We were honoured that Nakheel came to an Irish person to buy the island of England. There was lots of talk about Richard Branson and Rod Stewart wanting to buy it and there are some very annoyed people in England who thought they had it but didn't get it."

The Galway group plans to market the island of England development as "Greater Britain" and hope to go to the market early next year, said Mr O'Dolan.

The group is currently seeking planning permission to develop a luxury hotel and 219 residential units and a hotel on the island, according to Mr O'Dolan.

Mr O'Dolan's company, O'Dolan International, has already undertaken a number of developments in Dubai, including a scheme on The Palm, Jumeirah.

Mr O'Dolan is also involved in the island of Ireland at The World development along with Noel Connellan, Ray Norton and Andrew Brett. "I have been asked if I plan on joining the two islands together," Mr O'Dolan joked.

Villas at the Ireland island, which is being marketed as "Ireland in the Sun", are for sale for €850,000 with prices going up to €3 million and are for sale through Larionovo and O'Dolan International. Last year Nakheel unveiled plans for the The Universe, a mixed-use development of man-made islands which will feature islands in the shape of the sun, the moon and the planets and will wrap around The World.