A FAMILY dispute has erupted in Ireland – over a fruit bowl that once belonged to Britain’s Queen Victoria.
The Wedgewood bowl, specially commissioned by the Queen and valued at a minimum of £80,000, was bought at an English market by Irish woman Mary Elsie Carroll when she worked in Britain in the post-war years.
Mrs Carroll had no idea of the bowl’s value and regularly used it for salads on her return to Ireland.
She passed away in 2011, leaving her estate to be divided between her seven children.
Her house, worth €53,000, was worth considerably less than the bowl, valued at about €113,000.
But recently emerged correspondence indicates that the bowl may have been sold to the family of the Duke of Devonshire by one of her sons for about £100,000.
Now, the family is embroiled in a High Court dispute over the sale of the bowl, as the remaining siblings seek to restrain any dissipation by Michael Carroll of the proceeds of the sale of the bowl.
It is unclear when the bowl's value and history emerged, but it was used by Britain’s royal family at their Scottish estate at Balmoral.
It was later passed to the family of the Duke of Devonshire.
At some point, it was bought by Mrs Carroll who brought it back to Athlone and used it in her family home.
Court documents show that Mr Carroll claimed in a text to his sister Marie Ryan that he last saw the bowl containing some trifle in the fridge of the family home in Athlone, Co. Westmeath.
But it was further stated that Ms Ryan found letters under the bed used by Mr Carroll in the family home which showed he had been in correspondence with British auctioneers Sotheby’s.
The letters stated that the family of the Duke of Devonshire did not want the bowl to be sold at auction and had made an offer of £100,000 to acquire it.
Further correspondence from Permanent TSB suggested that a sum of £100,000 was received from Sotheby’s.
Ms Ryan has brought proceedings seeking orders against Michael, including restraining dissipation of proceeds of any sale of the bowl or of €30,000 alleged to have been removed from a joint account held in an Irish bank.
Counsel said that the matter arose because Mr Carroll had taken the bowl and had withdrawn the €30,000 from the joint account.
The case was returned to Wednesday, July 29.