O’Donnells’ former Gorse Hill home sells for €9.5 million

Family had fought to retain Killiney property after amassing debts of €71m

On April 29th, 2015, solicitor Brian O’Donnell, former owner of Gorse Hill, walked into the Bank of Ireland AGM and threw a set of keys with a keyring marked “The Bloody Keys” at BOI chief executive Richie Boucher. Video: Bryan O'Brien


Gorse Hill, the Killiney Hill trophy home formerly owned by solicitor Brian O’Donnell and his wife, Mary Pat, has sold for €9.5 million to an undisclosed buyer.

Following increased activity in and out of the property on Vico Road in recent days, The Irish Times has learned that the sale will conclude later this week.

Situated on two acres on one of the best coastal sites in Ireland, the six-bed house was placed on the market in March this year with an asking price of €8.5 million through joint selling agents Sherry FitzGerald and Knight Frank.

The instruction came from receiver Deloitte acting on behalf of Bank of Ireland following a protracted battle between the bank and the O’Donnells after the family amassed debts of €71 million.

There were three serious bidders for the neo-Georgian property, which is adjacent to the home of U2’s Bono and runs to 10,220sq ft. The buyer is understood to be a low-profile businessman who was represented by an investment vehicle.

Despite intense speculation about an alleged interest, it is understood that mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor had not viewed the property.

Sherry FitzGerald director Simon Ensor declined to comment on the sale, except to say that contracts were signed four weeks ago and the property has sold for more than the asking price.

Long-running saga

The sale brings to an end a long-running saga that came to symbolise some of the worst of the Celtic Tiger fallout.

In 2015, Brian O’Donnell stormed into the Bank of Ireland agm and threw the keys of Gorse Hill, with a keyring marked “The bloody keys”, at chief executive Richie Boucher.

There was a series of protracted court cases and appeals as the O’Donnells fought to retain the property they purchased for just over £1 million in 1997 and later invested heavily in refurbishing.

Brian and Mary O’Donnell in London for a bankruptcy hearing in 2012
Brian and Mary O’Donnell in London for a bankruptcy hearing in 2012

Gorse Hill was catapulted to public prominence when the O’Donnells received the backing of the self-styled New Irish Land League in their battle against eviction.

The property provided one of the highlights of broadcaster Vincent Browne’s nightly TV3 current affairs programme when he managed to breach the perimeter and provide commentary from the front door and terrace of the house.

Later on the show Land League leader Jerry Beades described Gorse Hill as a “bog-standard house”.