Patrick Kealy is a director of Five Lamps Inn Public House Limited
A JUDGE has rejected proposals for the opening of a new pub in Rathkeale saying any additional premises would disrupt the fragile balance of peace and order in the County Limerick town.
Gardai strongly opposed the application which was made by a limited company – Five Lamps Inn Public House Limited – which has a registered address at Fairhill, Rathkeale.
The company, which was established last year, had sought a declaration of suitability relating to a premises at Main Street in the town.
The former hardware store was bought for €200,000 more than 20 years ago and €100,000 has been spent refurbishing the premises.
The directors of the company which made the application are Patrick Kealy and his wife Breda Kealy who both live at Red Brick House, Fairhill, Rathkeale. Both are members of the Travelling community.
Patrick Kealy, who also has an address in the UK, has been described as a “respected international antique dealer” and a “shrewd businessman”.
During a lengthy hearing, Judge Eoin Garavan was told a named woman would be hired to manage the pub as the directors of the company, who have no experience in the pub trade, would not be running it on a day-to-day basis.
It is alleged by the State that Patrick Kealy is the “Patriarch” of the Kealy family which is involved in a long-running feud with a number of other Traveller families in the Rathkeale area.
This has been disputed by Mr Kealy who told the court the feud has been resolved and that there are no ongoing difficulties between the families.
Handing down his ruling this Thursday, Judge Eoin Garavan noted the concerns of gardai in relation to the applicant, the premises and the potential impact of the granting of the licence.
During the hearing, Superintendent Eamon O’Neill described the situation in Rathkeale as a “powder keg” saying there was a risk of a “step backwards to future lawlessness”.
Judge Garavan said he would not comment on the garda concerns but noted they had been expressed by the superintendent in charge of the Newcastle West district.
He noted that Mr Kealy has outstanding tax liabilities of more than €100,000 and commented that he had failed to rebutt some of the allegations put forward by the State.
While Mr Kealy did not comment as he left the courthouse, licencing consultant JJ Bunyan said while the decision was understandable, he was disappointed with the ruling.
He said he believed the premises was suitable to operate as a pub and that the project represented a “massive investment” by his client.