Ireland's Eye – A roundup of top Irish news stories


A Barking Witness

A district court judge adjourned a drink driving case to July 16, after commenting that “there isn’t much we can do without Doctor Doolittle.”

Judge Mary Devins made the remark after it emerged that a German Schnauzer puppy was the lead witness in a drink-driving case.

Amona Elder of Ballindine told Castlebar District Court that on October 7, she woke at 5:30 a.m. to her German Shnauzer puppy barking.

Walking into the garden, Elder said she noticed a Jeep-type vehicle on its side in a ditch across the road. The retired nurse said on opening the door of the car, which was still running, she found a man, later identified as Joe McNamara of Irishtown, asleep in the driver’s seat.

“I checked his pulse and it was fine. There was a glorious smell of Christmas in the jeep. I tried to wake him, but he was slumped over,” said Elder, who said she called Gardai (police) minutes later.

Cross-examining Elder, solicitor Evan O’Dwyer asked how long she thought the Jeep had been lying across the road. She said it could not have been there more than a minute, and that as soon as the pup heard the Jeep it started barking.

O’Dwyer expressed concerns about the time Gardai reportedly received a call about the incident and in turn, about whether McNamara was tested for alcohol within the designated three-hour period.

Garda Conor McHale told the court that he arrested McNamara at 6:30 a.m. and a blood sample was taken at 7:25 a.m. The blood sample, he said, proved to contain four times the legal alcohol limit.

O’Dwyer noted that there was no time-of-driving submission in the oral evidence.

Commenting on the issue, Devins said it was “a first” that a dog was a witness to time of driving.

The judge adjourned the case, awaiting the outcome of another drink-driving case that hinges on the issue of time of driving.
- The Mayo News

Dead Man Goes Missing

A coroner has told the family of a man who died last Christmas to contact management at the Mid Western Regional Hospital after they claimed his body was “lost” following his death.

Joseph Connery, 65, who was originally from Garrryowen, sustained serious head injuries on December 27 after he fell down the stairs of his home in Ennis.

Limerick Coroners Court was told that Connery, who died a number of days afterwards, had donated some of his organs, but that when members of his family contacted the hospital after the transplant procedure there was confusion as to where his body was.

Coroner Dr. Timothy Casey told the family to raise their concerns with hospital management.

“You should write to the management of the hospital and explain how you feel,” he said adding that “lessons might be learned.”

Speaking after the inquest, Connery’s widow Mary said the saga was very upsetting for her and her family.

She said after her husband’s life support machine was switched off, they were informed the procedure to remove his organs would take around 10 hours and that they would be contacted once it was completed.  However, they were not contacted and had to phone the hospital themselves the following afternoon.

“When I eventually rang intensive care, the nurse there was shocked and she thought I was gone off my head,” said Mary who added that the nurse she spoke to did not know where her husband’s body was.

“Nobody seemed to know where he was and I remember saying to the nurse, ‘Did ye lose him or something?’” she explained.

Subsequently, the family were contacted and told to come to the morgue to formally identify the body before it could be removed.

“When we went back, I didn’t expect to see what I saw and I just lost it because he was on his own,” she said.

Connery’s daughter Triana said the whole experience was a “traumatic” ordeal for the family.
“Throughout the whole process we were not kept informed correctly,” she said.
- Limerick Leader

Still Running at 88

Maureen Armstrong of Upperchurch completed her 19th Dublin City Women’s Mini-Marathon on June 3 – at 88 years of age!

“This is my 19th Dublin City Women’s Mini-Marathon but I also took part in a mini-marathon in Thurles and also in the first County Tipperary Women’s Mini-Marathon in Clonmel,” Armstrong said.

She enjoys dancing and she and her daughter, Martina, trip the light fantastic at the very popular fortnightly Tea Dance in Drombane Hall.  ”We dance Ballycommon Sets, Quicksteps, and Cashel Sets,” she said. “I’m as good as any of them.”  

The secrets to her health?  “I don’t do any diet. I’m a light feeder and I am only [119 pounds].   I’m very fit and healthy and I like to walk about three miles every day. I stroll up and down the road, saying my prayers as I go. I don’t drink or smoke which is a great benefit to my health I think in this day and age, and I take aloe vera every day. With the current recession, it’s very important for people to get out and exercise.”