Publican cut lover from will and said she was housekeeper, court told
Published 07/04/2011 | 05:00
A RETIRED publican cut his lover of 25 years from his will and left everything to his son claiming she was only his housekeeper, the High Court has heard.
The late Bernard 'Ben' Smyth (80) gave a copy of his will to Bridget 'Breege' Lennon (60) leaving the house they lived in together to her. But months later he made a second will leaving everything to his son Michael Smyth -- unknown to Ms Lennon.
Ms Lennon, a part-time bar-worker, now wants the High Court to order that Michael, as executor of his father's will, should comply with, or specifically perform, the agreement reached between her and his father that she was to be left the house and around three acres at Cornacarrow, Drung, Co Cavan.
She says Ben repeatedly promised this to her and he effectively put this in writing when he made a will in November 2001 -- a copy of which he gave to her after they left his solicitor's office.
However, Mr Smyth made another will in April 2002 leaving everything, including his half-share in a pub in Tullyvin, Co Cavan, to Michael.
Michael, a bricklayer living at Dellfield Close, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, denies she and his father lived together "in like manner to that of man and wife". He claims his father had told him she was his housekeeper.
Ms Lennon told the court yesterday that she began working for Mr Smyth in 1977 in the Tullyvin Tavern, where three of his five children also resided. She worked in the bar, had a room upstairs and cooked for the children.
When Mr Smyth left the family home at Cornacarrow later that year, he also moved into the pub and he and Ms Lennon developed a close personal relationship.
Nine years later, in 1986, Mr Smyth decided to lease out the pub and he and Ms Lennon moved into his family home where they bred greyhounds for racing and continued to do so until his death in 2005.
Mr Smyth repeatedly told her over the years he would "not leave her without a roof over her head" and in 2001 he gave her a copy of his will leaving the house and land to her, Ms Lennon said.
After his death, she said she was "devastated" when Michael told her there was another will in which everything had been left to him.
She told her counsel that Michael offered to let her stay in the house but she refused to accept this because she would not be able to do anything with the property. She moved back to live with her mother before obtaining a council house.
Told by counsel that Michael was going to say that she was Mr Smyth's housekeeper, she said: "We lived together as man and wife, for God's sake, who was there to say we didn't."
Under cross-examination, she accepted Ben and Michael had a good relationship in Ben's latter years. She agreed that Michael had given money to Ben to have the pub done up.
She agreed she did not do work around the house just for money, that it was because she and Mr Smyth were lovers. "If you choose to live with somebody, you hope they will be good to you at the end of the day."
The case continues.