Wednesday 22 October 2014

The luxury retreat Jackie Lavin calls ‘home’

Published 13/07/2014 | 02:30

Jackie Lavin
Jackie Lavin

SHE has vowed to fight for her home, but businesswoman Jackie Lavin is not facing eviction from any ordinary humble dwelling, but rather a luxury retreat in Killarney National Park.

For the woman who has told of selling off some of her furniture, personal possessions and gifts to get back on her feet, it still seems feasible to hold on to the €760,000 mansion, despite the “pared back” lifestyle. That’s the price she says she paid for Killegy House from Glencullen Property Ltd, the company formerly owned by her partner of almost 35 years, Bill Cullen, in a private sale in 2011.

And she’s fighting her case in the High Court to prevent the receivers of Glencullen, Tom Kavanagh and Ken Fennell, from evicting her from the property.

She is already five days into the 14 allowed by a Circuit Court judge to submit her statement of claim and she says she has every intention of doing that.

The stone at the avenue leading up to the impressive residence bears the equally impressive title Killegy House and Hunting Lodge. Killegy is also the name of the townland and the local graveyard.

Formerly owned by well-known Killarney family, the Caseys, Bill Cullen purchased the site in the early 1990s and extended it considerably.

There is a public right-of-way nearby which affords a good view of its impressive proportions, but stray off that and a sign warns you are on private property.

The western wing of the manor-style house has a lot of glass but behind that is a second house that resembles a medieval German city square town-house with small windows. The two sections are divided by a courtyard and joined at one end.

Local resident and Killarney artist Frank Lewis says its probably the most impressive house in the area.

“It’s very impressive inside but one of the things that struck me, and I knew the artist involved, was the use of stained glass,” he says.

“There are very few other modern buildings of that standard and certainly none that are as fine and as extensive a structure as that one.”

In January, the mother-of-two was given 112 days to quit the property at a tribunal hearing of the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). The eviction was sought by the receivers on the basis that Ms Lavin had ceased paying rent in September 2012. At the PRTB hearing, the businesswoman said Mr Cullen had allowed her to “live and reside in the dwelling as she wished”.

She said she had an agreement with Mr Cullen that she did not have to pay rent for the property as she was an employee of Muckross Park Hotel and Mr Cullen’s partner.

He had been paying a benefit in kind to his company for use of the property, which changed in February 2009, when she entered into an agreement with Glencullen Properties to pay rent for the property, negotiated down to €15,000 per month in 2012.

Ms Lavin claims she transferred €760,000 to Glencullen to buy the house in 2011, but continued to pay rent to Mr Cullen’s company.

The receivers said her claim to own the property should be disregarded due to her failure to produce any proof of her “beneficial interest”. The case before Tralee Circuit Court has been adjourned until November.

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