Relative of Peadar Kearney seeks return of signed copy of national anthem

It is an important family heirloom and is ‘extremely valuable’, court told

Peadar Kearney

Peadar Kearney


A relative of Peadar Kearney, who wrote the Engish lyrics of the national anthem and composed the music along with Patrick Heeney, has taken proceedings against a fund-appointed receiver seeking the return of items including an original signed copy of Amhrán na bhFiann.

Lorcan Bourke’s High Court case is against receiver Anne O’Dwyer, of Duff Phelps Ireland Ltd, whom he claims took charge of the property where he had operated Bourke’s Bar, Catherine Street, Limerick, until its closure in 2014.

Mr Bourke, represented by Richard Kean SC, with Gareth Robinson BL, instructed by Georgina Robinson solicitor, is a great grand-nephew of Peadar Kearney.

Mr Kean told the court on Monday Mr Bourke is very concerned about the whereabouts of very valuable items that had been on display in the bar, including a signed copy of Amhrán na bhFiann, which had been in Mr Kearney’s family for many years.

The copy was dedicated by Peadar Kearney to Mr Bourke’s grandfather Lorcan Bourke, after whom the plaintiff is named. It is an important family heirloom and is “extremely valuable”, counsel said.

Other items of value that were on display in the pub included two framed pictures with the lyrics of The Fields of Athenry and Dublin in the Rare Auld Times, autographed to Mr Bourke by their composer Pete St John, a relative through marriage.

Mr Bourke had been in talks about getting items that had been in the bar returned to him but has been unable to get them back, counsel said.

In his proceedings, Mr Bourke seeks injunctions restraining the receiver selling his chattels in the pub until the case has been resolved. He also seeks declarations including that any sale of his items is null and void.

In a sworn statement, Mr Bourke said the pub closed in 2014 after the firm from which he had leased the premises got into financial difficulties. Despite always paying his rent on time and running a successful business, he was unable to renew his lease due to the premises owner’s difficulties with its bankers, he said.

Following the closure, Mr Bourke said he remained in contact with the relevant parties about getting his items returned to him.

He said his former landlord’s debts were acquired by a fund, Pentire Property Finance DAC and it appointed Ms O’Dwyer receiver over the premises in January 2017.

Mr Justice David Barniville granted Mr Kean’s ex parte application for permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on the receiver. The judge agreed with counsel it would not be appropriate to grant any orders until both sides have been heard and returned the matter to Wednesday.