Family land dispute a ‘desperate tragedy’

Judge says matter ‘has got completely out of hand’


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

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Tom O’Donnell made his remarks in the case where Clare man, Michael McNamara (39), Silvergrove, Bodyke was seeking possession of a house and 13 acres owned by his mother, Mary McNamara, 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 Silvergrove, Bodyke to him. In evidence, Mrs McNamara disputed this. Neither parties lives at the house.

Judge O’Donnell said: “I hoped that there would have been some resolution to this dispute between a mother and her son before now given that these people came into court as members of the same family and will still be members of the same family going out the door whether they are talking to each other or not.”

He added: “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 that 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 worth €55,000.

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

Judge O’Donnell said it was Mr McNamara’s view that he had 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 between her two sons.

He 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.”

Ruling against Mr McNamara’s claim for possession of the property, the judge said he found the evidence vague. However, he 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 Mrs McNamara to pay that amount to her son and to pay his legal costs. He put a stay on the costs order pending an appeal.