Family land row a ‘desperate tragedy’

A judge has told members of a family that “it is a desperate tragedy” that a land dispute between a mother and her eldest son ended up in court.

Judge Tom O’Donnell made his remarks at Ennis Circuit Court in the case of Michael McNamara, aged 39, of Silvergrove, Bodyke, Co Clare, who was seeking possession of a house and 13 acres owned by his mother, Mary McNamara, of Davitt Terrace, Cloughleigh, Ennis.

Mr McNamara leased the house and lands from his mother between 1991 and 2009 and told the court that his mother intimated to him that she would leave the house and lands at Silvergove to him. Mrs McNamara disputed this. Neither party lives at the house.

Judge O’Donnell said: “This is a matter that has got completely out of hand.”

Legal proceeding were initiated by Mr McNamara against his mother in 2009.

In evidence, Mr McNamara said the house and lands were put up for sale in 2009 with an asking price of €290,000. Auctioneer Donie O’Brien told the court that the house today “is a pile of stones” and along with the landholding, is worth €55,000.

However, counsel for Mrs McNamara, Pat Whyms BL, said the value is between €90,000 and €100,000.

Judge O’Donnell said it is Mr McNamara’s view that he has a legitimate expectation that he was going to get all of the land and home and his mother changed the game plan in that she was going to divide the property and give the house to her other son, James, and land to Michael.

Judge O’Donnell said: “It is Mr McNamara’s view that he was forced into these proceedings, and my view is that it is a desperate tragedy that the parties are here at all because I’m quite sure that the bigger picture is that the case has driven a wedge in respect of the family and I’m not quite sure that a court case is going to resolve it.”

In evidence, Mr McNamara said: “I told my mother that there would be no winners in this. I have tried several times to sort this out between us.

“I told her if you lose the case, you might end losing your house to pay legal fees. If I lose, I risk losing everything I have. There will be no winners in this, no matter what happens.”

Ruling against Mr McNamara’s claim for possession of the property, Judge O’Donnell said he found the evidence vague.

However, Judge O’Donnell said Mr McNamara put in place a substantial amount of work on the lands, with the judge costing the works at €12,598.

He ordered that Mrs McNamara pay that amount to her son and he also ordered that Mrs McNamara pay her son’s legal costs.

Judge O’Donnell put a stay on the costs order pending an appeal.


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