Dragon’s generous gift

Beach House, Kilmurvey.

Beach House, Kilmurvey.

Dragons’ Den businessman Barry O’Sullivan is selling a dream home on the Aran Islands and donating the proceeds to two homeless charities — Focus Ireland and COPE Galway — to help families escape homelessness.

Focus Ireland and COPE Galway recently announced a campaign to allow high net worth individuals to help with the homelessness crisis. The Home from Home campaign encourages people who are in a position to do so, to donate properties or funds to support the provision of homes to the homeless. Every €20,000 each organisation receives can be leveraged to purchase or refurbish a home, through borrowing and other Government funding schemes, which are extremely difficult to avail of without this initial leverage. In the first donation to the scheme, Dragons’ Den businessman Barry O’Sullivan is selling his holiday home on the Aran Islands.

The result will be that Mr O'Sullivan's very generous gift from the proceeds of one house will help to deliver homes for up to 15 families or individuals who are currently homeless. This could be even more, depending on the final sale value of the property.

The house he is putting up for auction is a stunning six bed property which enjoys magnificent views of Kilmurvey Beach and the wild Atlantic on Inishmore.

“I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Barry and his family for this really lovely gift," said Focus Ireland’s life president and founder Sr Stanislaus Kennedy. "I thank him not only on behalf of Focus Ireland but on behalf of the families who will have a place to call home because of this great act.”

She added: “It is vital that both Focus Ireland and COPE Galway have programmes like Home from Home in place that enable donations such as this to be leveraged with other funds to provide much needed housing. Large donors often want to get involved but may be thinking, ‘What can I do to really help?’ Well this is a perfect example of how such a donation will help both our charities to deliver homes for families and their children to escape the trauma of being homeless.”

Meanwhile, CEO of COPE Galway Jacquie Horan says that the numbers of people facing homelessness in Galway is the worst she can remember in her 20 years with the charity — and the biggest challenge now is getting access to housing. "So the value of this house in providing a further 15 or more houses for homeless people is amazing," she said. "It might even plant a seed for other such donations."

It is for this reason that both charities encouraged Barry O'Sullivan to go public with his donation. Because of his own high profile, associated in the main with Dragons’ Den, it is hoped that this will raise the profile of the property, and encourage others who may be in a similar position to consider doing something similar.

The generous act by the international businessman comes as family homelessness is at record levels with some 1,200 families and 2,400 children facing Christmas in emergency homeless accommodation. Focus Ireland is the lead homeless organisation working with families in Dublin, while COPE Galway works with homeless families and individuals in Galway city and county.

The property, known as Beach House, Kilmurvey, Inishmore, is to go under the auction hammer on the December 16 with O’Donnellan & Joyce. The six bedroom detached property, set on an elevated site, has magnificent views overlooking Kilmurvey Beach and is a 15 minute walk to the world famous prehistoric fort of Dun Aonghusa. The natural rectangular cliff pool known as Poll na bPeist, or The Wormhole, is also nearby, made more famous in recent times with the Red Bull Cliff Diving event in 2012.

The property is guiding with a minimum value of €300,000 however both charities are hopeful that it will raise even more given the spirit of generosity associated with this gift, coupled with the highest ever levels of need for housing for people experiencing homelessness in Ireland this Christmas.

Barry O’Sullivan has been on the board of management of COPE Galway from 2009 to 2015. He has always been a strong and generous advocate in support of the work of the organisation. During this time he also became part of the Dragons’ Den series and used this platform to promote COPE Galway and to support entrepreneurs with a social conscience.

Mr O’Sullivan explained his reasons for selling the house and also making his generous offer to help work by the two leading charities. “I know from my work with COPE Galway the terrible trauma families who are homeless go through," he said. "I also know charities like Focus Ireland and COPE Galway help many families and individuals to secure a home and escape from being homeless. I am happy to be in a position to sell this house and donate the proceeds to the Home from Home programme.”

Mr O’Sullivan has undertaken extensive refurbishment of the property, formerly a B&B, since he purchased it in 2005. The property boasts a cinema and a games room and plenty of space to roam in its extensive 4,640 square feet. The six bedroom house has a main bathroom with corner bath and large linen closet and all six bedrooms in the house have en suite shower rooms.

Selling agent Colm O’Donnellan said: “Inishmore is now one of the most sought after areas in terms of holidaying and ‘getting away from it all’. It has become the heart of tranquillity for many, striving to relax and enjoy being close to nature in this unspoiled haven, while still being in the midst of welcoming local families who have been on the island all their lives."

Anybody wishing to donate to the Home from Home programme should contact Focus Ireland www.focusireland.ie or COPE Galway at 091 778 750 or copegalway.ie

Full details of Beach House, Kilmurvey, Inishmore, are available on www.daft.ie , www.myhome.ie, and www.odonnjoyce.com, or contact Colm O’Donnellan or Anne Harding at O’Donnellan & Joyce auctioneers, 5 Mary Street, Galway, on 091 564 212 or email [email protected] .

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