17 May 2023
~2 minutes read
Relatives of deceased city farmer challenge will leaving €2.5m estate to relative with fraud convictions
Galway Bay fm newsroom – Relatives of a deceased city farmer are challenging a will leaving the bulk of her multi-million euro estate to another relative who has criminal convictions for offences including fraud.
The case is before the High Court, where it’s claimed the will was made before a solicitor alleged to be an associate of the main beneficiary.
It’s alleged they saw a “golden opportunity” when Margaret Hernon died in 2017 – a claim strenuously denied by both parties.
Margaret Hernon of Bushypark was an only child and when she died in March 2017 she had no children – and was pre-deceased by her husband and her first cousins.
She left a valuable estate worth over €2.5m, including a farmhouse with an adjoining 13 acres of land.
The High Court heard that the solicitors she had used for many years said despite discussions, it believed that she never made a will.
But six months after her death, her family was informed she had made a will in 2006 – before then solicitor Liam O’Gallchobhair, who was also nominated to act as executor of her estate.
Other than a few small sums of money to family, friends and the church, the bulk of her estate had been left to Mr Peter O’Toole of Leagaun, Moycullen.
One of the children of the deceased first cousins has brought proceedings against Mr O’Gallchobhair of Highfield Park, claiming the will was procured by deceit and by undue influence by Mr. O’Toole.
Opening the case, counsel for Mr. Agustus Kelehan said it was his case that Margaret Hernon did not have a good relationship with Mr O’Toole, and did not have any time for him.
It was claimed Mr. O’ Toole was unpopular within the wider family due to his criminal behaviour, with convictions for gun possession and fraud.
Counsel said that there were also concerns over the fact that Mr O’Gallchobhair knew and socialised with Peter O’ Toole.
The claims are denied and a counterclaim seeks an order formally proving the 2006 will.
Peter O’ Toole claims that he had a good relationship with Margaret Hernon, and the court heard that she had said to other third parties that Mr O’Toole had been good to her.
Liam O’ Gallchobhair accepts he knows and acted for Mr. O’ Toole, but denies the allegations that he somehow colluded with him.