It takes some doing for an Irishman to maintain his family's title and lands for centuries.
Despite all the wars and troubles and Cromwell's best-laid plans, Conor O'Brien is a baron yet, the eighteenth Baron Inchiquin to be exact.
THE O'Brien, head of the clan, no longer presides over his holdings from Dromoland Castle. That was sold to an American billionaire back in the 1960's. It's a hotel these days, and a very popular venue for weddings. If you want to experience the accommodations of Irish peerage, you have only to make a reservation.
To better dress up the hallways of the castle, Mr. O'Brien (or His Lordship, if he prefers) donated several family portraits that depict his notable ancestors.
The portraits are valued upwards of a couple of million euro, and what you see on the walls of Dromoland Castle are all originals.
Those who operate the place haven't been maintaining those valuable paintings, in Mr. O'Brien's opinion, and he went about taking them back.
He says he arrived with a specialty removal firm in the middle of the night to limit disruption to the guests. Mark Nolan, the hotel's general manager, feels that the baron arrived like a thief in the night to abscond with his own property that he shouldn't have been taking.
The matter is in the hands of the High Court, which will have to determine if His Lordship had the right to remove the paintings without providing the hotel with copies to replace the gaps in the gallery.
Baron Inchiquin, THE O'Brien, not just any old O'Brien, claims that he terminated the loan. He has a family member interested in purchasing them, to bring him some cash but keep the heirlooms in the family.
The hotel wants and needs copies because they're selling Inchiquin-ness at their five-star lodging, and without all those images of former barons staring down at the guests, it isn't the same.
Hard to argue with THE O'Brien, especially if the judge hearing the case is a member of the clan. He'd have to defer to the clan's king, you see, which would not make Mr. Nolan particularly pleased.
You'd have to imagine that the hotel is going to lose this round. The O'Briens didn't hang on to their title and land for centuries by backing down, and they've faced worse than a lawsuit over the years.