AN elderly woman who nursed her seriously ill partner for more than 10 years until his death faced homelessness when his children changed the locks at the house they shared.
But yesterday, a judge relied on what he believed would be a message from the grave to solve the bitter dispute between the family of the dead man and his now 80-year-old partner.
Dublin Circuit Court President Justice Matthew Deery, who granted Peggy Morrison, of Laurel Park, Clondalkin, Dublin, a lifelong right of residence in the couple's former home, said if her late partner had been present in court he doubted he would have wanted to see the woman whose life he had shared for 23 years deprived of a roof over her head.
The judge said Ms Morrison and Bernard Timmins, a widower, had met at work in October 1986 and he invited her out for a drink. They had struck up a relationship which had culminated in her having moved in with him in 1995. In 2000 he developed cancer.
Ms Morrison told the court how she had cared for him during years of debility, until his death in October 2009.
During their time together he had led her to believe she would have a lifetime right of residence in the house. The judge said Ms Morrison had been told in January 2010 by Mr Timmins's daughter, Marilyn Black -- the executor of his will -- that the house and contents were for sale.
Mr Timmins had made his will in 1988, only two years after meeting Ms Morrison, and there had been no mention of her in it. He said Ms Morrison had received assurances from Ms Black's solicitor that there was no plan to evict her and she had been out of the house while an inventory of contents was being taken.
When she returned she had found the locks had been changed.
Mr Timmins's son, John, had been in the house and had told her she could not come in.
He had pushed two days' supply of her tablets out through the letterbox to her and she had to sleep elsewhere on a couch for two nights until a court directed she be allowed back in.
The judge said Ms Black and Bernard Timmins Junior had told the court the live-in relationship had been volatile and alleged Ms Morrison had been abusive to their father.
They said they had seen bruises on his shins and arms.
Ms Morrison denied having been abusive but had told the court she stood up for herself when Mr Timmins would have drink on him.
The judge said it was unfortunate Ms Morrison's fight for a right or residence "had come to this".
He said her case against Mr Timmins's daughter, Marilyn Black, and his sons Bernard, junior, and John, all of whom had been left the house, had been a bruising encounter for her in court.
"Things have been said in this court that will leave a scar," the judge said.
"The late Mr Timmins would hardly have stated in this situation that Ms Morrison had not provided him with a degree of comfort, security and companionship," he added.
He told counsel for Ms Morrison that she was entitled to a right of residence and the legal costs of her legal bid to obtain it.