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Santa Claus will be turning the lights on at the Dundrum Town Centre on Thursday, and a pre-celebration took place at the shopping mall on Sunday. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Ireland’s Eye - a round of top Irish news stories

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Santa Claus will be turning the lights on at the Dundrum Town Centre on Thursday, and a pre-celebration took place at the shopping mall on Sunday. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Bestiality Death on Trial

In the first case of its kind in the country, a Limerickman appeared before court charged with buggery with a German shepherd in a house in Patrickswell, Co. Limerick four years ago.

Sean McDonnell, 58, who has moved out of Limerick to an undisclosed location due to publicity surrounding the case, appeared visibly upset in Limerick Circuit Court as details of the case emerged.

Judge Carroll Moran heard that a number of text messages had been sent between the defendant and a woman identified only in court as XY, who died after having sexual activity with the dog belonging to McDonnell on October 7, 2008, in Laurel Park, Patrickswell.

The defendant, a father of three, called the emergency services, and when the ambulance and paramedics arrived they found the 43-year-old woman in an unusual state of dress, “with an unusual opening in the area of her pants.”

The court heard he also contacted his doctor twice as he realized she was in distress, and then “collapsed as a result of contact with the dog.”

She was removed to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital and was pronounced dead.  Staff at the hospital alerted Gardai (police) to the incident.

A post-mortem examination was conducted by the state pathologist Dr. Marie Cassidy, and the cause of death remains undetermined.

Swabs were taken from the deceased and no human semen was found. Further analysis by the International Society for Animal Genetics found that the samples taken from the deceased and McDonnell’s dog, MacKenzie, were a match.

McDonnell went voluntarily to Roxboro Road Garda station on the night in question, and on April 8, 2009, his home was searched.

Three computers were seized by Gardai -- two belonging to XY and one belonging to McDonnell -- which showed extensive activity in pornographic and bestiality sites.

It is the defense’s case that there was “absolutely no element of any form of coercion” in this case, and that the woman sought out this activity.

The defendant faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The case has been adjourned to December 14.
 -Limerick Leader

Hate Crime Investigated

Police have confirmed that they are treating attacks on a Filipino family from the Ransevyn area in Whitehead as a hate crime.

The family, who say they are afraid to leave their home, talked of their anguish after being targeted by a group of teen vandals for almost one month.

Vandalism to the family's property first occurred around three weeks ago when a group of four boys wearing hooded jumpers broke into the family car.

At first, the family believed the break-in to be just a random crime, but since then more sinister incidents have taken place.

Aside from vandalizing property, the group of teenagers last week began to terrorize and bully the family of five.

One member of the family who did not wish to be named said she first noticed the attacks when the family car was broken into.

"I thought initially that it was just a random crime because we have lived in the house for almost six years and haven't had any problems," she said.

“Soon after the car was broken into we caught boys banging on our fence. Then they began destroying it by taking out palings."

The group returned on October 20, banging on the family's house while shining laser pointers into the windows.

“They were shouting what sounded like mock Chinese accents at us, but I can't be sure what they were saying," she said.

“They even shone a laser on my forehead while I was calling the police.

“I was literally shaking and fearing for my family's lives."

The resident revealed that she first phoned the police at 10:24 p.m. that same evening, but as the incidents got worse she called the police again 20 minutes later.

At 11:30 p.m. the police called her back and said there would be a delay in getting an officer to visit their house.

“I didn't sleep that night," she said.
- Carrick Advertiser

Castle for Sale

It provided the backdrop for John Ford’s The Quiet Man and was the only Irish hotel named recently in the Condé Nast Traveler Top 100 Hotels and Resorts in the World. Now Ashford Castle in Co. Mayo, is once again on the market, this time for the bargain price of €25 million – roughly half what developer Gerry Barrett paid for it just five years ago.

Set on 365 acres in Cong and overlooking Lough Corrib, the main building is in the style of a French chateau and was built in the mid-1700s, incorporating the old castle built in the 1220s (which is now unrecognizable). Further major development occurred throughout the 19th century, after the estate was purchased in 1852 by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness.

A luxury hotel since 1939, it is currently being run by Tifco Hotel Group, after being put into receivership last year. It is reported to be trading successfully.

The castle, which boasts 83 bedrooms, including six suites, has been a favorite with many celebrities throughout the years, including Ronald Reagan, Brad Pitt and Pierce Brosnan, who celebrated his marriage to Keely Shaye Smith there in 2001.

The hotel’s target market is mostly U.S. tourists, and room rates at the resort can reach €950 per night. However, in recent years, packages and midweek-break offers have meant that the hotel has become more affordable to would-be guests.

National reports have said that the 800-year-old castle is likely to be bought by a group of international investors.
- The Mayo News

Santa Hat Fight

A RUGBY player who was in Athy District Court for assaulting a woman over a Santa hat was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service in lieu of five months in prison and fined €500.

Leslie O’Meara pleaded not guilty to the offense which occurred at the Castle Inn bar on December 18, 2011.

The court heard that Lorna Corcoran was given a black eye by the defendant when she tried to get a Santa hat back from the defendant who took it from her head while she was dancing on the dance floor. 

The married father-of-two at the time, who plays rugby for Athy, told the court that he had been on a pub crawl drinking 10 pints throughout the course of the day and night.  He claimed that the hat was his and had been given to him by his son.

The injured party told the court that when she tried to grab the hat back the defendant refused to give the hat back unless he got a kiss.

“As I grabbed it he grabbed me by the thigh, ripped my dress and I fell to my knees,” she said.
“I got up and I was bruised and really upset. It was a new dress. I was crying. I told him, ‘You’re a great man pulling me to the ground for a Santa hat.’

“He started to call me names.  I told him I was going to tell security. He followed me and I threw my drink at him. Then he punched me and I blacked out.

“I banged the back of the staircase and had bruises on the back of my head, bum and eye. I was disorientated as I wear glasses, but contact lenses when I go out.”

The defendant denied in court that he punched the victim but admitted that he pushed her after he felt something hit the back of his neck.

The injured party admitted that when the defendant called her a tramp, she threw her glass at him. Security was then called to the scene and the defendant was asked to leave.

He told the court that he left the premises but had a red mark at the back of his head which the owner of the bar witnessed.

“I’ve never punched a woman in my life,” he said. “When I pushed her she banged her head unless she hit her eye off the stairs. I did not punch her.”

Judge Desmond Zaidan said the assault came about over a trivial black Santa hat that got out of control.

“I’ve no doubt he punched her,” he said. “She suffered a black eye as a result of his actions. She wouldn’t give him a kiss so he was going to keep the hat. He has shown no remorse.”
He was given 90 days to pay the fine.
- Leinster Leader

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