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Estranged couple in London court battle for Galway holiday home after mother had 'affair'


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A mother-of-four became embroiled in a divorce court fight over a holiday house in her "ancestral territory" in rural Ireland after having an affair, a judge has heard.

Margie Hanley (56) and estranged husband Michael (60) - who used to share a home in Wentworth, Surrey - both want the house they jointly own in the village of Cornamona, County Galway.

They are staking rival claims at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Mr Hanley has told Mr Justice Holman how their 33-year marriage hit the rocks after he discovered that his wife had an affair with a man he knew.

Mrs Hanley, who denies adultery, said Mr Hanley had told her that she could have the house in Cornamona and was "punishing" her.

The judge has heard that the couple, who are both Irish, had lived in Europe, the Far East and the United States because Mr Hanley's work had taken him abroad.

They had built the house about 16 years ago and had gone there for holidays and at Christmas.

Mr Hanley, who retired last year, had been living at the house for the past few months.

Mrs Hanley, who still lives in Wentworth, has told Mr Justice Holman how generations of her family had lived in Cornamona.

She said her 92-year-old mother still lived there and was the oldest person in Cornamona

"It's where I have been all my life - generations of my family," Mrs Hanley told Mr Justice Holman. "Life is full circle. It's where I started out. It's where I ended."

The judge said Mrs Hanley felt that Cornamona was her "ancestral territory".

Mrs Hanley said life was "much simpler" in Cornamona, and that "one-horse town" was a good description.

"There is one road in and one road out," she said. "There is one shop, one pub. The doctor visits once a week."

Mrs Hanley said Mr Hanley did not really want the house in Cornamona.

She told the judge: "He is just torturing me. He is just punishing me."

Mr Hanley said she had put 16 years' work into the house.

"It's my backbone," she said. "It's like my fifth child. If I were to lose it, it would be like losing a child.

"It's my heart, my soul, my life. It's where I feel safe and secure."

She added: "He said I could have (it)."

Mr Justice Holman heard there had been suggestions of Mrs Hanley living elsewhere in Cornamona.

He also raised the possibility of the pair, whose children are grown up, using the house at different times of the year.

But Mrs Hanley told him: "We are getting divorced. The village isn't big enough for both of us."

Mr Hanley said he wanted to live in the Cornamona house, and denied that he was trying to hurt Mrs Hanley.

He said the house had been extended over the years and had Jacuzzis and a work-out area. He also told the judge about "spectacular views".

"I like to fish," he said. "I like to walk, I play guitar, I like to cook, I like to read, I like to meditate."

The judge heard the marriage had broken down about two years ago.

"I found out that my wife was having an affair," said Mr Hanley. "It's somebody I knew."

Lawyers representing Mrs Hanley told the judge that she denied adultery.

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