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Limerick Widow Seeks Divorce Amidst Allegations of Cruelty and Land Dispute |

Limerick Widow Seeks Divorce Amidst Allegations of Cruelty and Land Dispute

In a courtroom drama unfolding at the hearing before Mr Justice Boyd and a city common jury, a petition for divorce by Mrs. Anne Madden against her husband, Michael Madden of Ballywilliam, Rathkeale, has shed light on a troubled marriage marred by allegations of cruelty and land disputes.

The petitioner, a widow who was previously known as Anne O’Grady, outlined a series of events dating back to March 1910, when she entered into matrimony with Michael Madden. Madden, a farmer hailing from County Limerick, had previously worked on the tramways under the London Co. Council. Mrs. Madden claimed that Madden had been mistreating her consistently, asserting that he viewed her as an “encumbrance on the farm.”

The court heard that upon their marriage in February 1910, Mrs. Madden assigned her farm of 48 acres in Ballywilliam, near Rathkeale, to Madden for a mere £150. The value of the farm was estimated to be around £1,000. Soon after, Madden allegedly began asserting his dominance, asserting that Mrs. Madden was a mere lodger in the house, subjecting her to physical abuse, including dragging her by the hair, striking her in the face, kicking her on the body, and using vile language.

Adding to the complexity of the situation, Madden introduced his brother John into the household in July or August 1912. The court was told that John actively participated or at least observed the assaults on Mrs. Madden . Counsel for the petitioner argued that the discord in the marriage was exacerbated by the presence of John, as Madden sought to retain control over the farm and remove his wife from the equation.

The petitioner, a middle-aged woman, provided testimony detailing the alleged assaults and mistreatment. She mentioned that Madden had been fixated on the farm and had little regard for her well-being. Mrs. Madden asserted that Madden had been trying to get rid of her since the beginning of their marriage.

During cross-examination, Mrs. Madden admitted to signing the deed of assignment but claimed she could not read. The defence raised questions about her credibility, referring to a letter purportedly written by her, expressing a desire to reconcile and return to the house. Mrs. Madden denied writing the letter and asserted that she dictated it to another person.

The court learned about the involvement of the police, with Mrs. Madden seeking protection from assaults on multiple occasions. Head Constable Price testified, describing an incident where Mrs. Madden showed a large bare patch on her head from hair torn out during an assault. However, the defence argued that she was lewd in her expressions and exhibited a violent demeanour.

As the proceedings unfolded, the court attempted to facilitate a settlement between the parties, urging them to consider a separation agreement. After failed attempts to reach an agreement during breaks, the court continued with the case.

In a surprising turn, the court was informed that the respondent, Michael Madden, agreed to pay his wife 7s. 6d. per week as part of a separation agreement. The court accepted the terms, emphasizing the financial consequences for Madden if the dispute continued. The decision highlighted the difficulties faced by both parties and the potential loss of property if a resolution was not reached.

The case sheds light on the complexities of marital disputes involving property and the impact of family dynamics on legal proceedings. The legal resolution emphasizes the pragmatic approach to settlement, preventing further financial and emotional turmoil for both parties involved.

Evening Herald (Dublin) – Wednesday 25 June 1913

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