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Air Gorse One: Aerial snaps show true splendour of 'bog standard' house

NewsBy Nicola Tallant
Gorse Hill
Gorse Hill

The little plane takes a left somewhere over Wicklow and starts making its way up the coast.

It is a beautiful clear day and below us the country is laid out like a perfect tapestry. 

Underneath us are swathes of housing in Bray and then Shankill as we head up the coastline.

“If we can find Bono’s gaff we should be able to pick it out,” I say from the back into my headset. 

“Try to follow the Vico Road.” 

I’m attempting to appear both brave and professional, but I am utterly petrified. The photographer is hanging out the window. The wind would cut you in two and the pilot is struggling to hold the plane steady.  

I strain my eyes to get my bearings. I can see the round tower at the end of Killiney beach, the old Court Hotel, now magnificent apartments, and then the curve of the Vico.

Each of the houses is incredible, with their massive lawns and elegant driveways. This really is Ireland’s Beverly Hills and laid out beneath us are the homes of the rich and the famous. I pick out Bono’s beautiful seaside home and Enya’s stone castle with its fairy-tale turrets.

Suddenly my eyes fall on the most spectacular house I have ever seen.  The head of the New Land League, Jerry Beades, who described it as “bog standard” should be up here in the sky looking down on it now.

It is so far from ‘bog standard’ that you can almost understand why solicitor Brian O’Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia have created such a ridiculous circus in their efforts to hang on to it.

Gorse Hill

As we circle above, we can see the swimming pool glistening in the sunshine, the ornate lions that guard the tiled terraces, the landscaped gardens that sweep down the cliff towards the shoreline, the tennis court to the right and the sheer splendour of a property that looks just like something out of Brideshead Revisited.

Blaise and Blake O’Donnell – two of the O’Donnell’s four adult children – said last week that the impression that they had a “gilded life” was untrue and that they had a “very, very normal upbringing” at Gorse Hill. From where I am hovering, I’m not so sure that their version of ‘normal’ and mine would tally.

Two huge removal trucks sit outside and as we fly above and two figures get out of a car and make their way across the pebbled drive.

Just hours earlier the O’Donnells have been granted a stay of execution to remain at the property until next Thursday as we watch them make their way inside the doors of Ireland’s most famous property.

They will be back in court next Thursday, when Brian O’Donnell will present his case against a trespass injunction in the Court of Appeal.

The order was obtained by Bank of Ireland and a receiver who are trying to seize the property as part of an effort to recover an eye-watering €70million in debts the couple incurred through property investments.

The O’Donnells are insisting that they have “permanent right of residence” at Gorse Hill, despite the fact that they returned from the U.K. to move in after their children, who they argue are the rightful owners, lost the property to the banks in the courts.#

Bono's house (bottom left), Enya's 'castle' (top left) and Gorse Hill (middle right).

While the family haven’t enjoyed much support from the general public, they have become the darlings of the New Land League – an organisation set up to help those facing eviction from their homes by the banks.

In a legal battle worthy of a stage play, the O’Donnells appealed a High Court order to vacate Gorse Hill after being given a 5pm deadline to leave the property last Thursday.

The Court of Appeal sat on Friday morning to hear Mr O’Donnell’s application for a continuation of a stay on the order.

He said he was looking to extend the time that he and his wife have to vacate the property so they can appeal the trespass order given to the Bank.

In the court, Cian Ferriter SC for the Bank said that the O’Donnells are “not the owners of the property”. He said the couple had returned from the U.K. “where they live” to take possession of the Vico Road pile.

O’Donnell is insisting that he and his wife have  “a permanent right of residence” and argued that he hasn’t had time to respond to the court orders.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Sean Ryan said that the couple must present the appeal on Thursday.