AN English holidaymaker who slipped and fell on an ancient stone spiral staircase at Quin Abbey, Co Clare has lost his High Court action for damages against the Office of Public Works (OPW)
Richard Byrne's action was regarded as a test case in relation to the duty of care owed to the recreational user of ancient sites and monuments.
Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said it was one of those cases where the head had to rule the heart and he had no option but to dismiss the claim and did so with a "somewhat heavy heart".
Mr Byrne, a pensioner, might be spared having to fork out thousands in legal bills for the two-day hearing after the judge urged the OPW not to seek costs in what was "an unique and rather unusual case."
Mr Byrne from Flixton, Manchester, has sued the OPW as a result of the accident at the abbey on July 25, 2010.
He claimed he was descending the ancient staircase when he lost his footing and put his weight on the rope handrail provided but it failed to give him any proper support and he fell down six steps to the bottom of the stairs suffering severe personal injury.
When he returned to the UK he said he discovered the bones on his elbow had fused over and he now has arthritis in his shoulder and suffers pain.
Mr Justice Moriarty said he had immense sympathy for Mr Byrne who had fallen as he made a manoeuvre in a tight and ancient place
But, he said, on a conscientious application of the law to the facts he regretted he had to conclude Mr Byrne had not discharged the onus of proof and he had to dismiss the claim.