Monday 19 March 2018

Descendant of Peader Kearney seeks return of signed copy of Amhrán na bhFiann from pub receiver

Lorcan Bourke from Limerick City, pictured leaving the Four Courts Pic: Collins Court
Lorcan Bourke from Limerick City, pictured leaving the Four Courts Pic: Collins Court

Tim Healy

A descendant of the composer of the lyrics of the national anthem is seeking the return of items including an original signed copy of the song from a receiver appointed over a pub in Limerick.

Lorcan Bourke, a great grand nephew of Peadar Kearney, claims receiver Anne O'Dwyer, of Duff Phelps Ireland Ltd, has taken over Bourke's Bar in Catherine Street where items, including the signed copy of the anthem had been on display. Mr Bourke had leased and operated the bar until its closure in 2014 following financial difficulties for his landlord.

Peadar Kearney wrote the lyrics of the song which was adopted as the national anthem in 1926.

At the High Court on Monday, Richard Kean SC, for Mr Bourke, said his client is very concerned about the whereabouts of valuable items which had been displayed in the bar.

They included the copy of Amhrán na bhFiann, signed by Mr Kearney, and which has been in the Kearney family for many years. The copy was dedicated to Mr Bourke's grandfather, Lorcan Bourke, who the plaintiff is named after.

Other items of value include two framed pictures with the lyrics of "The Fields of Athenry' and 'Dublin in the Rare Auld Times' autographed to him by his relative through marriage, composer Pete St. John.

His client had been in talks about getting items returned to him, but has been unable to get them back, counsel said.

Mr Bourke went to the premises last September and had assumed he would be allowed take what he says are his possessions.

He noticed several items were missing.  A security official who met with his client made it clear to Mr Bourke that no property was to be removed.

Mr Bourke is concerned the items may be sold if the receiver is not prevented by the court from doing so, counsel said.

His client's concerns were heightened because he believes that the premises have been sold and will reopen at St Patrick's Day under new management, counsel said.

Mr Bourke seeks injunctions restraining the receiver from selling his chattels in the pub until the case has been resolved.

In a sworn statement, Mr Bourke said the pub closed in 2014 after the firm he had leased the premises from got into financial difficulties.

Despite always paying his rent on time and running a successful business, he was not able to renew his lease to his landlord's financial difficulties.

He said his former landlord's debts were acquired by a fund called Penture Property Finance DAC, which appointed Ms O'Dwyer as receiver over the premises in January 2017.

Following the pub's closure he had to move to Dublin out of economic necessity. Arranging for the removal of all of his items in the pub was extremely difficult, he said.

He had left the matter in the hands of professional advisors and had kept in contact with the relevant parties about the items.

But when he inspected the premises last September he said several items were missing and he does not know where they are.

As well as the framed song lyrics, he said he does not know where other items in the bar that belong to him had gone, including a grandfather clock, enamel pub signs, bar equipment, sound and light system and furniture.

Mr Justice David Barniville, on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis, granted Mr Bourke permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on the receiver.

The case comes back on Wednesday.

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