Receiver takes possession of Gorse Hill

Letter pinned to gate claims O’Donnell children’s firm Vico Ltd owns house

A receiver for Bank of Ireland finally took possession of the Killiney, Co Dublin mansion, Gorse Hill, just before lunchtime on Wednesday.

Retired solicitor Brian O'Donnell was the last member of the family to leave the €7million property, driven away by Jerry Beades of the New Land League, in a British registered Jaguar car, at 9.37am.

Earlier, his wife Dr Mary Patricia O’Donnell had been collected by a friend who arrived in an 11-D registered , soft-top Mini shortly before 9am.

The family friend, a woman who had visited the O’Donnells regularly in recent weeks, reversed the Mini up to the terrace on the seaward side of the house, where it was piled with boxes and bags. Mr and Mrs O’Donnell then emerged, Mr O’Donnell holding the car door open as his wife sat in. As the car started, Mr O’Donnell closed the door and walked back along the terrace, and into the house through French windows guarded by life-sized, stone lions.

Shortly afterwards Jerry Beades and members of the new Land League arrived. At 9.35 am New Land League steward John Martin told reporters at the gate that "this is it". The large wooden gates parted electronically and two minutes later as Mr Beades drove Mr O'Donnell up the driveway.

As the car passed a group of some 20 reporters and cameramen, Mr O'Donnell raised a hand in an apparent wave. Mr Martin said Mr O'Donnell had gone to the agm of Bank of Ireland and would not be back.

Mr Beades returned to the house and later emerged to pin a letter to the gate addressed to Bank of Ireland solicitors Arthur Cox.

The letter, pinned in the same position where agents for the bank had nailed an eviction notice last month, asserted Gorse Hill belonged to a company named Vico Ltd. It warned that Vico Ltd did not consent to access or possession by the bank's receiver and all keys and fobs should be returned to Vico Ltd. It was signed by Blake O'Donnell, one of Mr and Mrs O'Donnell's four adult children who are owners of Vico Ltd. The other children and co-owners are Blaise, Bruce and Alexandra O'Donnell.

Speaking to reporters after he pinned the notice to the gate Mr Beades said the locks had been changed on the property since Brian O’Donnell had left it at 9.37am.

Not long before the court deadline of noon for vacating the property, Mr Martin took a call on his mobile phone, telling the caller whom he referred to as “Mary” that a green bag containing shoes had not been found. It was likely, he said, to have gone in one of the removal vans which had been at the property since Tuesday night. Mr Martin later confirmed the call was from Mrs O’Donnell.

As the deadline came and went a steady stream of cars caused congestion on the narrow road and three local gardaí arrived. As Mr Beades engaged with the gardaí about traffic, a black Ford minibus arrived with the bank’s receiver and some of his staff. Two men dressed in black suits and wearing sunglasses walked rapidly to the gate and pressed an intercom button while Mr Beades and receiver Tom Kavanagh shook hands.

Mr Kavanagh explained he was there with a court order to take possession of the house, while Mr Beades questioned him on his response to the assertion of its rights by Vico Ltd. Mr Kavanagh asked if Mr Beades was obstructing the High Court order. Mr Beades said he was not, but was seeking answers to his question.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist

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