Jay Bourke’s offer to cancel 12 million euro debt withdrawn

Publican and restaurateur Jay Bourke has dropped a bid to get a €12million debt forgiveness and now faces bankruptcy.

The well-known businessman, who once employed more than 1,000 people, has racked up debts of €13.7m and faces the loss of his €1.4m family home in Rathmines , south of Dublin.

Jay Bourke had hoped to get High Court approval for a personal insolvency agreement (PIA) canceling 12.2 million euros of debt. Much of that had to do with Bellinter House, the Co Meath boutique hotel he bought in 2003 for £2.3million with late music promoter John Reynolds, which underwent a £16million refurbishment euros before opening in 2006.

Publican and restaurateur Jay Bourke has dropped a bid to get a €12million debt forgiveness and now faces bankruptcy. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Their operating company went into liquidation four years later and the hotel was sold in 2016 for around 3 million euros.

Its main creditor, Pepper Finance, had opposed its PIA, because it would have recovered only €65,000 of the nearly €12.3 million owed to it. He said he would be better off if he went bankrupt.

He also argued that the 55-year-old and his wife should not be able to keep their precious home, due to the amount of debt.

Jay Bourke
The well-known businessman, who once employed more than 1,000 people, has racked up debts of €13.7m and faces the loss of his €1.4m family home in Rathmines , south of Dublin. Photo: Garrett White/Collins

The tax authority, to which Mr Bourke owes €558,000, had backed the draft debt deal, under which he would have been repaid in full.

It is understood that Mr Bourke had hoped his PIA application would be backed by a windfall he was counting on from the IPO of an insurance brokerage firm in which he had invested.

However, this did not materialize as receivers were appointed to this company in February.

Jay Bourke
Jay Bourke had hoped to get High Court approval for a personal insolvency agreement (PIA) canceling 12.2 million euros of debt. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland.

On Monday, Judge Mark Sanfey was told by Keith Farry, the lawyer for Mr Bourke’s personal insolvency practitioner John O’Callaghan of KPMG, that PIA’s application could be dismissed.

Mr Bourke opened his first restaurant, Wolfman Jack’s, in Rathmines in 1989, before building an empire that included Rí Rá, The Globe, The Front Lounge and the Eden restaurant in Dublin, as well as Bodega and the Savoy in Cork and the Café Bar Group catering.

The High Court will hear again from the lawyer involved in the case later this month over a legal detail relating to the tax debt.


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John A. Bogar