Meath husband and wife have €5.7m debt written off in return for €17,000 lump sum

The former couple had a number of pub and catering companies, including one through which they ran the Kestrel House pub in Walkinstown, Dublin.

Graham and Bernie Canning from Slane, County Meath pictured as they won the Supreme Champion Award at Blas na -hEireann (Irish Food Awards) in Dingle, County Kerry in 2014. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Graham and Bernie Canning


A woman previously involved in pub and catering businesses has had €2.8m in debt written off by the High Court in return for a lump sum payment to creditors of €1,000.

In a related personal insolvency arrangement (PIA) her husband, who the court heard she is separated from, had €2.9m written off in exchange for lump sums totalling €16,000.

The applications in respect of Bernadette and Graham Canning, of different addresses in Slane, Co Meath, were approved by Mr Justice Alexander Owens.

The former couple had a number of pub and catering companies, including one through which they ran the Kestrel House pub in Walkinstown, Dublin.

Mr Canning is reported to have bought the pub in 2004 for €7.3m, but it closed in 2010 and was sold the following year for a sum believed to be in the region of just €2m.

They were also once proprietors of the Conyngham Arms Hotel in Slane.

Barrister Keith Farry, representing personal insolvency practitioner Tara Cheevers, told the court that the applications had “100pc support” from creditors.

While most PIAs involve the retention of the family home, usually with new mortgage terms, the arrangements for the Cannings provide for “mortgage to rent”.

This means that the family home is to be sold by Bank of Ireland to an approved housing body, which will make it available to Bernadette Canning at a social housing rent rate.

The court heard the family home was worth €390,000 but €396,000 was outstanding on the mortgage.

Six acres of forestry land near Slane, said to be worth €50,000, will also be sold under the PIAs. Some €172,000 is owed in relation to the property.

Bank of Ireland had a judgment mortgage or €2.6m secured against the family home and the forestry land.

Mr Farry said the former couple had four dependent children and that Mrs Canning was caring for her father, while Mr Canning was self-employed as a food consultant.

Mr Justice Owens described their cases as “left over stuff from the great recession”.

Papers filed in court said the former couple got into financial difficulty when one of their companies failed in 2000. They had personal guarantees relating to the failed company.

There were a number of additional failed business attempts, with further debts arising from each of these.

In Bernadette Canning’s case, her main creditor was Bank of Ireland, which was owed €3.2m.

Most of the debt was common to both Bernadette and Graham Canning, although Mr Canning had a number of additional creditor and his total debts amounted to €3.3m.

The court heard the return for creditors under the PIAs would be larger than if the Cannings were to be made bankrupt.

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