A man has been ordered to pay his former lover €15,000 plus costs arising out of a dispute over the repayment of a credit union loan.
Galway Circuit Civil Court heard Hanna Kelly, of Ardrahan, Co Galway, took out a loan to finish and furnish her ex-partner’s home, in the belief they were engaged.
Ms Kelly, a mother of five, also told Judge Raymond Groarke her ex-partner Michéal Geraghty, of Knocknamanagh, Craughwell, Co Galway, had promised to add her name to the title deeds of his house.
Mr Geraghty, a father of six, denied both claims and said he never asked or intended to marry Ms Kelly, a former fitness instructor, as he was already married.
The court heard the former couple had an “on again, off again” relationship beginning in 2004 and ending via text message in October 2012.
During this period, they lived together intermittently in houses in Gort, Ardrahan and Craughwell.
When pressed by James Fahy BL, counsel for Mr Geraghty, for details on “where, when or how” they got engaged, Ms Kelly said she couldn’t recall.
In her evidence, she said Mr Geraghty proposed to her several months after they got together and they exchanged Claddagh rings as a sign of their commitment.
However, Mr Geraghty said the rings were exchanged in the context of a Christmas present and he never wore his.
He also said he was still legally married at the time.
Mr Geraghty said that following his legal separation in 2008, he decided it was necessary to build a home at a site he owned beside his former marital home, in order to maintain access to his daughter, who has special needs.
However, Ms Kelly claimed they had intended to build the house together and cited this as the reason she secured a credit union loan of €26,000.
She told the court the loan was in her name only, as Mr Geraghty believed he would not get approval as he was not a member of the credit union and had no loan history.
The loan was taken out in July 2008 and repayments of €94 per week were agreed over a period of eight years.
The money was used to complete the build which had been largely undertaken by Mr Geraghty who is a builder by trade.
However, the court heard the couple’s relationship broke down multiple times over the next few years and they only lived together in the house for short periods of time.
Ms Kelly provided the court with 118 repayment receipts totalling €12,440.
She claimed she personally paid more of the debt, but couldn’t locate the receipts.
She also claimed she carried out tiling, painting and various groundworks, which together with the loan amounted to €17,446.
Following one of their break-ups, Ms Kelly told the court she contacted Mr Geraghty’s solicitor and found out she was not named on the title deeds, and she felt let down.
Mr Geraghty claimed he repaid all but €890 of the loan which, when penalties were added, amounted to €40,984.
He said he would give money to Ms Kelly weekly to repay the loan and that it was always his debt, not hers.
When their relationship ended in 2012, Ms Kelly stopped repaying the loan and Mr Geraghty took over the full payment which was settled in May 2018. Finding in favour of Ms Kelly, Judge Groarke ordered Mr Geraghty to pay €15,000 plus costs of €2,500.