Gorse Hill, Vico Road, Killiney

Gorse Hill is one of the most substantial properties in all of ‘Bel Eire’, sitting on a c. 1.25 acre site with panoramic views.

The original Gorse Hill was built c. 1926 – then far more modest, the house comprised 3 reception rooms, a breakfast room, 3 bedrooms and a double garage. Mr. and Mrs. Peter Ashe, resided at the now-demolished house during the year 1980 and most probably a good deal of time before and after then also. The house was listed for auction in 1985, presumably by the Ashe family. The listing didn’t cause much of a stir at the time as the Celtic Tiger had yet to rear its head. In 1997, all that changed when it was listed for auction again. The house sold for £1,055,000 (€1.34m), which was relatively good value given prices achieved for other nearby properties, however the price paid was still £400k over the guide and £145k over the reserve.

The buyer was solicitor Brian O’ Donnell, former partner at William Fry Solicitors. As many of you know, Mr O’Donnell and his wife’s taste for expensive property didn’t stop on Vico Road, as they amassed landmark buildings around the world and a supposed combined debt of hundreds of millions of euros. At first, the redevelopment of the modest property that sat on the Vico Road site was troublesome. They were denied planning permission to demolish Gorse Hill due to the extremely conservationist attitude towards development of Vico Road sites fronting onto the DART/Sea. Eventually, they obtained planning permission for the c. 9,000sqft mansion that now occupies the prime Vico Road site, with features such as an indoor gym and sauna.

After years of happily living in Gorse Hill, the owners, Celtic Tiger ‘poster couple’, Mr Brian O’Donnell and Dr. Mary Pat O’Donnell, declared bankruptcy in 2012 in London. As part of these proceedings, it was established that Gorse Hill was valued at €30 million at the height of the boom, but was at that point worth €6 to €7 million.

Ownership of the house was reported to be held in a company, Vico Capital, which is beneficially owned by the O’Donnell’s four children. The ownership of the property was the subject of serious media attention in 2015 as a stand-off took place between the O’Donnells and the receiver, Deloitte’s Tom Kavanagh, as the O’Donnells refused to leave the house and called in the New Land League.

In spite of the well-publicised drama relating to the house’s ownership and its deteriorated condition, the property embodies all aspects of what an estate should be with every possibly amenity – from tennis court to outdoor pool – and is certainly one of the best properties on Dublin’s coast.