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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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Court refuses to give Dromoland paintings back to Lord

Chief of the 750,000 O’Brien clan also refused an injunction preventing the reproduction of paintings, which he said would devalue them.

Bertie Ahern with George Bush outside Dromoland Castle in 2004.
Bertie Ahern with George Bush outside Dromoland Castle in 2004.
Image: PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AP/Press Association Images

A HIGH COURT judge has refused to order Dromoland Castle in Co Clare to return paintings on loan to it from Conor O’Brien, the 18th Baron Inchiquin.

Lord Inchiquin, who is chief of the 750,000 O’Brien clan, was also refused an injunction preventing the reproduction of paintings, which he said would devalue them. He had asked the High Court to direct the return to him of 37 portraits worth €1.4m that have hung in the five star hotel for several decades.  He had argued that they were not being properly looked after and had been damaged through neglect and recklessness.

However, Dromoland Castle Holdings denied the claims. It also said that under a 1993 agreement, the owner of the paintings, Baron Inchiquin, was not entitled to repossess the painting en masse. Doing so would irreparably damage the reputation of the hotel, which is one of the best known in the United States.

It said it would return the paintings once it had made copies that could be hung in place of the originals, for which it is understood Lord Inchiquin had found a buyer.

Mr Justice O’Keefe of the High Court refused the application for a mandatory injunction forcing the immediate return of the paintings and an injunction prohibiting reproduction. He said a full hearing would take place soon, in which the exact nature of the 1993 agreement would be looked at.

The Inchiquins lived in Dromoland Castle until 1962, when they sold it to American billionaire Bernard McDonagh.

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