A WEALTHY Limerick woman intended to leave €500,000 in her will to one local charity amid a €12m fortune, but one out-of-place word will see that amount divided between two local charities.
Elizabeth Burke, originally from Elm Park, near the Ennis Road in Limerick, made out her will in 2007 and requested that €500,000 be left to the Limerick branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. However, no such society exists.
It is believed the mother of two also made a sizeable donation to another Limerick charity, but her solicitor refused to answer queries from the media yesterday.
The philanthropist was a former owner of Stackallen Stud in Co Meath, and lived on Dublin’s plush Ailesbury Road.
Leaving an estate valued at €12,309,728, she also bequeathed that €7m be left to Barretstown camp for seriously ill children in Co Kildare, which was established by the Hollywood actor Paul Newman. Following her death on October 20, 2011, the matter was referred by her Dublin based solicitor to the Commissioners for Charitable Donations and Bequests to decide who should get the sum of €500,000. The law states that in such cases the money has to go to the charity doing the closest kind of work, and as both Limerick Animal Welfare and the Limerick Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals operate locally, it was decided the money should be divided between both bodies.
Her death notice at the time urged mourners to make a donation if they wished to the Irish Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Marion Fitzgibbon, of Limerick Animal Welfare, said the donation would be “a wonderful start to 2013”, but stressed that they are still awaiting official confirmation that the money is theirs.
“Whoever this wonderful lady was we’ll be praying for her. We have never received anything like that,” she said. She said the charitable body are “still pinching ourselves” about the donation, which they learned of before Christmas.
A meeting will be held with their board of directors to decide on the best use of the funds. Their annual running costs amount to €550,000, while work has been at a standstill for their new building programme for the past 15 months. “It is deteriorating rapidly, and we’re most anxious to start that again,” she said. She said their sanctuary for some 200 animals would not be able to function without funds raised through their charity shops in Limerick.
Meanwhile, the Limerick Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is in “ongoing discussions” with its legal representatives about monies bequested.
“Because of the legal sensitivities involved, and in an effort to be fair to all parties in the matter, the LSPCA will be making no public comment until the matter has been fully resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.”