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Judge grants order for sale of land and property in estate of Desmond Guinness

Separate issues concerning interpretation of Guinness’s will previously agreed, High Court told

A judge has granted orders to facilitate the completion of the sale of some property in the estate of the late Desmond Guinness in Leixlip, Co Kildare.

The High Court orders, made by Ms Justice Siobhán Stack, relate to 14.1 hectares of land at Leixlip and a property known as the Back Lodge.

Separate issues concerning the construction and interpretation of the will of Desmond Guinness had been resolved previously under an agreement, the court heard.

Guinness, who lived at Leixlip Castle, Co Kildare, died in August 2020, aged 88. He was an Anglo-Irish author of Georgian art and architecture and a co-founder with his first wife Mariga of the Irish Georgian Society.


Born into the Guinness brewing dynasty in 1931, he was the second son of author and brewer Bryan Guinness, second Baron Moyne, and his then wife Diana Mitford.

During the High Court’s probate list on Monday, Catherine Duggan SC, on behalf of the executors of Guinness’s estate, sought orders to have solicitor Cormac Brennan extract an attorney grant under the Succession Act to complete the sale of the land and lodge.

The application was grounded on several affidavits, including from Guinness’s widow Penelope and his son Patrick Guinness.

They, along with Guinness’s daughter Marina, had been named as executors of his estate. Marina had renounced her role as executrix, said Ms Duggan.

Patrick Guinness had negotiated with a purchaser for sale of the lands when it was not anticipated issues would arise concerning construction and interpretation of his father’s will, counsel said.

Those issues were resolved under a lengthy agreement called the September agreement, she said.

While the September agreement was not the reason for the present application, it was being made known to the court because it was the reason a grant of probate had not been sought before this, the judge was told.

An application for a grant could not be made until this month, Ms Duggan said. The estate has a multijurisdictional aspect and there are a lot of non-residential beneficiaries, she added.

In relation to the lands subject of the sale contract, a residential zoned land tax which would have applied from February 2024 was, as a result of budget 2023, delayed to February 2025, counsel said.

The tax would have been applicable to land zoned for residential use, the liability would have been “significant” and that is one of the reasons for making the application to court now, she said. The sale has to be completed by the end of this year, she said.

The only parties who could have an interest in the lands are parties to the September agreement, said Ms Duggan.

The orders sought related only to completion of the sale and do not concern the distribution of the proceeds of sale, the court heard. The September agreement provides for certain distributions to parties of the proceeds of sale, the court was told.

The judge made orders under section 27.4 of the Succession Act appointing solicitor Cormac Brennan as attorney on behalf of Penelope and Patrick Guinness to complete the two contracts for sale. Mr Brennan had confirmed he would extract the grant of probate and the closing date for completion of sale was to be 28 days after that, the judge was told.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times