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Publican was my lover for 25 years...now I've been cut out of his will, woman tells court

A RETIRED publican cut his lover of 25 years from his will and left everything to his son claiming she was only his housekeeper, it was claimed in the High Court.

The late Bernard 'Ben' Smyth (80) gave a copy of his will to Bridget 'Breege' Lennon (60) leaving her the house they lived in together -- but months later, unknown to her, he made a second will leaving everything to his son Michael Smyth.

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 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 put this in writing when he made a will in November 2001 and gave her a copy of it after they left his solicitor's office together.

However, Mr Smyth made another will in April 2002 leaving everything, including his half-share in a pub in Tullyvin, Cavan, to Michael.



greyhounds

Michael, a bricklayer of Berk-hamsted, Hertfordshire, England, denies she and his father lived together as man and wife. He claims his father told him she was his housekeeper.

Ms Lennon told the court yesterday, she began working for Ben in 1977 in the Tullyvin Tavern where three of Ben's five children also lived. She worked in the bar, had a room upstairs and cooked for the children.

When Ben left the family home at Cornacarrow later that year, he also moved into the pub and he and Breege developed a close relationship.

Nine years later, in 1986, Ben decided to lease out the pub and he and Breege moved into Ben's family home where they bred greyhounds and continued until his death in 2005.

Ben had repeatedly told her he would "not leave me without a roof over my head" and in 2001 he gave her a copy of his will leaving the house to her.

After his death, she said she was "devastated" when Michael told her there was another will.

She told her counsel 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 and that Michael would be coming back and forth from England to the house. She later moved back to live with her mother before eventually obtaining a council house.

Told by counsel that Michael was going to say that she was Ben's housekeeper she said: "We lived together as man and wife for God's sake, who was there to say we didn't?"

She added: "If you choose to live with somebody, you hope they will be good to you at the end of the day."

The case continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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