Court to rule on row over Harry Clarke windows in Bewley’s Cafe

Developer Johnny Ronan firm, RGRE, in dispute with Bewleys Cafe Grafton Street and Bewleys Ltd

The High Court has reserved its decision in a dispute over whether six Harry Clarke stained glass windows in Bewley’s Cafe are windows or moveable chattels.

A company of developer Johnny Ronan, RGRE Grafton Ltd, which owns the building, brought proceedings against its tenants, Bewley’s Cafe Grafton Street  Ltd and Bewley’s Ltd, in a dispute over the payment of rent as a result of difficulties created by the pandemic lockdowns.

In 2020 RGRE sought possession of the premises over non-payment of the rent, but this was resolved following mediation and arrears of €749,000 were paid.

There followed a dispute in which Bewleys sought to offset further rent payments by offering to sell the Harry Clarke windows to RGRE.


Bewleys argued the windows were never part of the property and have from time to time, subject to statutory requirements, been moved freely within the premises. They have been treated as ornamental decorative panels and have always remained in Bewley’s ownership, they said.

Further proceedings

RGRE responded they were part and parcel of the structure sold when RGRE bought it from the previous owners. Bewley’s couldn’t sell it what it already owned, RGRE said.

RGRE then brought further proceedings seeking various orders and declarations including that the windows form part of the premises, are owned by RGRE, and any purported transfer of ownership by Bewley’s is null and void.

Bewleys opposed the proceedings and during the hearing this week and last week experts from both sides disputed each other’s views as to whether they were windows or moveable ornamental panels.

At the end of legal submissions from lawyers for both sides on Wednesday, Mr Justice Denis McDonald said he would try to give his decision in September.