Kinsale’s Ballinacurra House owner in High Court battle with loan fund

April 2nd, 2024 6:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Ballinacurra House has welcomed many celebrities over the years including Michael Jackson and his children in 2007.

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A ROW over a financial fund’s appointment of a receiver over an exclusive estate that has hosted celebrities including Michael Jackson is to go to a mediation, the High Court has heard.

Businessman Desmond McGahan has brought proceedings against Mars Capital Finance (Ireland) Designated Activity Company and receiver Rory Cotter of Crowe Ireland over the plaintiff’s property known as Ballinacurra House in Kinsale.

Mr McGahan says he and his wife Lisa are the owners and operators of the property, where they also reside with their three children.

He says that he was attempting to sell the property, which he says is his family home, for €5.5m to €6m.

He claims he is unable to do so after Mars Capital, which is owed €2.2m by the plaintiff, appointed Mr Cotter as receiver over the property.

He claims that in early February, and without warning or any prior notice to him or his advisors, that security staff wearing stab vests and body cams engaged by the defendants entered the property and changed the locks.

Since then he claims that several security guards have been living in the property, and have restricted the plaintiff’s access to various parts of the venue.

Mr McGahan claims the receiver has not been validly appointed.

He also claims that the fund has shown ‘a gratuitously callous disregard’ toward him, and fears that the fund may seek to sell the property at a gross undervalue of some €4m. The defendants deny any wrongdoing.

As a result of the receivers’ appointment and security coming on the property Mr McGahan sought an injunction against the defendants, which he says he requires in order to progress the sale.

The injunction would restrain the defendants from interfering with the sale process.

The injunction would also require members of Blackwater Security placed on the property by the defendants to leave.

When the matter came before the High Court recently, Edward Farrelly SC with Keith Farry BL for Mr McGahan said that the application could be adjourned after certain undertakings were given by the defendant.

Counsel said that the dispute is to go to mediation.

In the meantime Mr McGahan is free to show the property to any prospective buyers, the court heard.

In his action, the Northern Irish-born businessman says that in October 2023 Mars acquired the loans from another fund, Pepper Finance Corporation Ireland DAC.

Mr McGahan, who is 70 years of age, claims it acquired loans he took out some years ago, and owes approximately €2.2m to the loan holder.

He claims he had an arrangement in place with Pepper that would result in him selling the property, and repaying the loan in full, by the summer of 2024.

He said that he has been trying to sell the property for several years, but that process has been delayed due to various factors, including his own serious illness, and because in 2021 Pepper lost the deeds of the property.

That resulted in a proposed €7m sale falling through in late 2021.

He claims that by appointing Mr Cotter, Mars is attempting to breach and circumvent the agreement reached with Pepper, in order to achieve a quick sale.

He claims that he has parties interested in buying the property.

He also claims that his health has been adversely affected by the defendant’s actions.

The property has been used for events, weddings, and has been rented to many famous people. Among those who spent time there include European royalty, A-list actors, politicians, businesspeople, and musicians including the late singer Michael Jackson and his three children in 2007 for three weeks.

In 2017 Ballinacurra House was selected as Ireland’s wedding venue of the year.

The matter will return before the court next month.

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