O’Flynn family hit by double blow

A Cork construction dynasty has been rocked by two court petitions, writes Property Editor Tommy Barker

O’Flynn family hit by double blow

THE Cork construction O’Flynn family dynasty — responsible for building thousands of houses — was rocked this week by a devastating double blow to two separate major businesses.

The Nama-associated company NALM yesterday petitioned the High Court to appoint a provisional liquidator to O’Brien and O’Flynn, a house building firm headed by Denis and Dan O’Flynn. They have built across the greater Cork area since 1976, with up to 4,000 homes constructed.

The company had a reported €71m in debt, the court was told, with less than half that in assets.

The O’Brien and O’Flynn provisional liquidator’s appointment came just one day after the High Court approved the appointment of an interim examiner to O’Flynn Construction, headed by two other O’Flynn brothers, Michael and John. That interim appointment, which is likely to be vigorously contested, was at the behest of US corporate giant Blackstone, which acquired the O’Flynn Group’s €1.8bn debt from Nama for about €1.1bn earlier this year.

Construction Industry Federation secretary Joe O’Brien last night said: “This is a bad and sad week for Cork; both were highly regarded and accomplished, responsible builders and developers. There will be twists and turns left yet for O’Flynn Construction with Blackstone, but a [provisional] liquidation is a real sad situation for O’Brien and O’Flynn.”

The two companies O’Flynn Construction and O’Brien and O’Flynn are entirely separate, but their principal directors are from the same large family from Ovens, just west of Cork City. They have consistently been in the top five Cork building stakes since the 1980s: Only assorted Coleman’s building firms may have had anything like their housing output.

While O’Flynn Construction (founded 1978) diversified across a range of development, construction, and investments in Ireland, the UK and Europe, O’Brien and O’Flynn stayed closer to its house building roots, primarily in Cork.

It built large schemes, generally in popular locations, as well as building warehouses, a hotel/bar at Doughcloyne, and the very successful Brookfield Holiday and Student Village with swimming pool by UCC.

During the mid-2000s building peak, O’Brien and O’Flynn were producing 200-300 new houses and apartments annually.

Having initially and consistently built in Ballincollig, they went on to span the city, west to east.

Their largest schemes were Maryborough Woods and Maryborough Ridge in Douglas, with up to 1,200 homes between these two developments, as well as Deerpark, Eagle Valley, Sandbrook and Garrane Darra in Wilton, Coolroe Meadows among many other Ballincollig schemes, and Ashmount in Tivoli/Silversprings.

O’Brien and O’Flynn have assets/land and sites yet to be fully developed in locations like Douglas and Monkstown. Two high-profile land purchases, on Maryborough Hill (€4m per acre for three acres) and on the Airport Hill (€13.7m for seven acres) at market peak would have inflicted severe losses on the business, as sales slumped post-2007.

Insolvency practitioners McStay Looby were appointed provisional liquidators by Mr Justice Paul Gilligan yesterday. The matter has been adjourned until next month.

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