Jailed farmer challenges will over family property dispute

By Gordon Deegan

A west Clare farmer has told a court that he wants a will concerning a family property dispute challenged.

In May, Gardaí arrested John Morrissey of Clonreddan, Cooraclare, on the same day his mother was buried, as a result of a criminal damage offence he committed at the property, which is at the centre of the dispute.

John Morrissey has been on remand in custody since.

John Morrissey (53) has pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to a fuse box at the home of his brother, Tom Morrissey, at Alva, Cooraclare, on May 5.

When arrested and cautioned on the charge in May, John Morrissey replied: “That’s not Tom Morrissey’s f**king home.”

The disputed property was owned by Morrissey’s late mother and she died in May.

John Morrissey farms all of the land surrounding the house and he told the Ennis District Court today: “I want the will challenged.”

In response, Judge Patrick Durcan told John Morrissey: “I can’t deal with that, so I can’t. Your solicitor, Stiofan Fitzpatrick, is an expert on wills.”

‘Ongoing family dispute’

Fitzpatrick told the court today that the criminal damage matter relates “to an ongoing family dispute”. John Morrissey is very entrenched in relation to it.

“He has strong beliefs in relation to it; it is a historical matter – he accepts that on the date in question that he damaged the fuse box. He has been in custody on the matter since May 7.”

Fitzpatrick previously told the court that John Morrissey believes that the disputed house “isn’t the property of his brother who is the complainant”.

Judge Durcan stated that he would strike out the criminal damage matter if compensation of €200 is paid to the Court Discretionary Fund (CDF) by John Morrissey.

John Morrissey stated that he would pay the money to the CDF.

‘I don’t know very much about this case’

Judge Durcan told John Morrissey that he doesn’t “know very much about this case”. In response, John Morrissey stated: “Well, I do, your honour.”

Judge Durcan stated that he had a great deal of sympathy for John Morrissey as he has for all people that appear before him.

Judge Durcan told John Morrissey that “I don’t want you to have a criminal record from this”. In response, John Morrissey said: “I’m not worried about my record.”

One of 13 siblings from a very well-known west Clare family, John Morrissey is a self-taught tradesman working as a farmer back in west Clare on very marginal land.

John Morrissey remains on remand in custody at Portlaoise prison concerning a separate charge and Fitzpatrick told the court today that he has no instructions from John Morrissey to make a bail application.

John Morrissey remains in custody as a hearing concerning into that case has to be heard at Ennis Circuit Court.