"Broke" Irish tycoon swaps apartments for graves

Thu Feb 4, 2010 12:31pm EST
 
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DUBLIN (Reuters Life!) - A property tycoon left "broke" by the spectacular collapse of Ireland's construction boom plans to revive his fortunes by erecting gravestones instead of raising apartment blocks.

Bernard McNamara, who last month said his businesses had debts in the region of 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion), is seeking planning permission to develop a graveyard in west Dublin, the Irish Independent reported on Thursday.

Other Irish builders, whose apartment blocks lay vacant in Dublin and housing developments empty in the so-called "ghost estates" outside the city, also plan to turn to filling cemeteries where space is at a far greater premium.

"There are currently 37 graveyards in use in the country, and many of these have reached or are nearing their full capacity," the newspaper quoted a submission to Fingal County council by McNamara's firm Versonwood as saying.

Officials at McNamara Construction which Fingal listed on its website as the contact for Versonwood did not make immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

McNamara, who bought a number of high profile Dublin hotels at the height of the Ireland's 'Celtic Tiger' boom, said he was "broke" last month after a court ordered he personally repay 62.5 million euros to investors over a soured deal.

The deal concerned a piece of land bought for 412 million euros in 2006 but valued by the court at an estimated 50 million euros and likely to become one of the most high profile assets to be owned by the state under a 'bad bank' plan.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Paul Casciato)