Tuesday 12 December 2017

The rise and fall of the Rich List golden couple

Brian O'Donnell returning to Gorse Hill
Brian O'Donnell returning to Gorse Hill

BRIAN O'Donnell grew up by Union Cross on Limerick's Ennis Road.

He attended Crescent Comprehensive School where he was considered a promising rugby player.

After leaving school, Mr O'Donnell studied law in University College Galway where he met his wife, Mary Patricia.

She went on to practise as a psychiatrist while he entered the legal profession before eventually founding his law firm, Brian O'Donnell's Solicitors.

In 2007 the couple returned to the university, where Mr O'Donnell was honoured at its eighth annual gala banquet. The theme of the evening was volunteerism, and Mr O'Donnell was honoured with an Alumni award for Law, Public Service and Government.

Although they graduated as professionals in well-respected fields, it was their property portfolio that would catapult them on to Irish rich lists.

The pair began to build a property empire in 1999, and just a decade later they featured on the Sunday Times Rich List, placing 178th.

The O'Donnells built up a staggering property portfolio worth an estimated €1.1bn at one point.

In 2008 their company, Vico Capital, bought an office building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, breaking property records with a price tag of around€156m.

Mr O'Donnell's solicitor's firm was also included on a legal panel of approved legal advisers for Nama before his financial woes were made public.

Nama insisted he has never worked for the agency, but on foot of the revelations that Mr O'Donnell was being pursued for some €800m debt it was forced to introduce stricter screening procedures for appointing legal advisers.


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