WARRING neighbours face costly legal bills of up to €50,000 after a bitter 13-year battle that started over a boundary wall ended up in court.
Circuit Court Judge Alison Lindsay threw out the €38,000 damages claims brought by the next-door neighbours against each other, telling them to consider mediation.
The families – who live alongside each other in adjoined, semi-detached, red-brick homes at Villa Park Gardens, Navan Road, Dublin – will now have to cover their own costs after their lengthy feud culminated in a two-day court hearing earlier this week.
Legal sources estimated the legal bill at around €25,000 for each party.
It was indicated it would be unlikely to be appealed to the High Court due to the mounting costs.
After initially being sparked by the raising of a boundary wall, the court heard the row had been festering since 1998.
Solicitor's letters were sent, complaining about the sound of garden wind-chimes and a dog growling.
Other allegations, which were read out in court, included claims of grass poisoned by weed killer, water and eggs thrown, obscene name-calling and music played so loud that it caused delph to vibrate.
Mary and Eddie McBride, who are both in their 80s; and Michael and Marian Hanway had accused each other of a war of intimidation and harassment. The warring couples were suing each other for damages of €38,000.
But Judge Lindsay said neither of the parties had proven their case.
At the door of the McBrides' home, a relative said: "We will just have to consider what the judge said. It is a family thing."
There was no response at the Hanways' two-storey home, which is guarded by an electronic gate. The Hanways sued the McBrides for emotional suffering, harassment and intimidation, trespass and deliberate camera surveillance of the comings and goings at their home.
In turn, the McBrides counter-claimed, alleging assault, noise pollution and putting them in fear.
Mrs McBride (83) claimed in court she and her husband had been "crucified" by their neighbours for the past 13 years.
The difficulties began in 1998 when the Hanways returned from holidays to find the McBrides had raised the wall separating their back garden by two blocks in height.
Mrs Hanway said "things festered" after that and it lead to a "falling out" and the eventual arrest of her husband, who was later convicted for noise pollution.
She spoke of frequent solicitor's letters from the McBrides complaining about the sound of garden wind-chimes or of their dog growling. Gardai also searched their home after the McBrides claimed Mrs Hanway poured weed-killer on the grass outside their home.
Breffni Gordon, counsel for the Hanways, told the court the McBrides had rejected written invitations from his clients to enter into mediation talks.
"I will not ever have anything to do with that family," Mrs McBride said.
She said the family had suffered so much at their hands that they no longer trusted them.
The Hanways claimed the McBrides kept 24/7 secret CCTV recordings of the activities in the Hanways' back garden and driveway.
Mr Hanway claimed a constant "tyranny of intimidation" from the McBrides, accusing them of turning up the TV and radio sound loud.
He denied having driven his car at the McBrides before sharply braking in front of them.