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"Cracked Old Farmer's Shotgun Altercation Leaves Young Man Injured, Court Awards Damages" |

“Cracked Old Farmer’s Shotgun Altercation Leaves Young Man Injured, Court Awards Damages”

In a dramatic courtroom scene at Nisi Prius No. 2 today, an elderly farmer, Jeremiah Cahill, found himself at the centre of a legal battle as he faced accusations of firing a shotgun at a group of youths. The incident, which took place in the quiet village of Rathjordan, Co. Limerick, left a young man, Richard Cleary, with serious injuries, prompting his father, Stephen Cleary, to seek justice and damages.

The court proceedings unfolded before Mr Justice Gibson and a city common jury, with Sergeant M‘Sweeney and Mr Michael Comyn representing the plaintiff, Richard Cleary. On the defence side, Mr P. D. Lynch, K.C., and Mr Joseph O’Connor defended Jeremiah Cahill. The heart of the matter revolved around a disputed encounter on the evening of October 14th, which resulted in a gunshot wound to the young Cleary.

The plaintiff, a farmer’s son from Rathjordan, recounted the events leading to the shooting. At approximately 7 o’clock that fateful evening, Richard Cleary and three others found themselves at a crossroads when Jeremiah Cahill, an elderly farmer from the same locality, allegedly fired a shotgun from behind a hedge in his own field. Chaos ensued, and it was only after running about fifty yards that Cleary realized he had been shot, with blood streaming down his face. Twelve pellet wounds, some passing through his scalp, were the aftermath of the shocking incident.

Under examination by Sergeant M‘Sweeney, the young plaintiff claimed that the attack was unprovoked, though he mentioned a previous altercation where Cahill allegedly confronted him on the road about a girl. Despite the defence’s attempts to portray Cahill as a victim of aggression by four young men throwing stones and sods of earth, Cleary maintained that he had never attacked the elderly farmer.

During cross-examination by Mr Lynch, it was revealed that Cahill, a 70-year-old man, had a reputation for being irritable. The defence argued that the shooting might have been a reaction to previous incidents, including an episode where a rope was stretched across the road while Cahill was riding his horse. However, Cleary denied any involvement in such incidents on the night of the shooting.

The police sergeant in charge of the Hospital station in Co. Limerick provided crucial evidence, stating that Cahill had pleaded guilty to the shooting at Limerick Assizes. To the surprise of many, Cahill was immediately discharged by the presiding judge.

The plaintiff’s uncle, Dr Cleary, and Sir Thomas Myles, who examined Richard Cleary, testified about the severity of the injuries. Dr Cleary spoke of extensive shot wounds to the boy’s head, with the bones of the skull visibly affected. Sir Thomas Myles suggested a plausible connection between Cleary’s medical condition, exophthalmic goitre, enlargement of the thyroid gland and heart, and the shock caused by the shooting.

Jeremiah Cahill, when examined by Mr Lynch, presented himself as a victim of constant stone-throwing attacks on his property by local youths. He claimed to have been struck on the head with a sod on the night in question, prompting him to fire the shotgun in self-defence only after being stoned and physically attacked.

In a witty exchange during cross-examination, Cahill expressed that he wouldn’t shoot Mr Lynch but found it necessary to shoot someone before his head was broken with stones. The defence hinted at the idea that Cahill believed he had the right to defend himself on his own land.

The trial also took an unexpected turn when Cahill revealed that he had sold all his cows and pigs since the proceedings began, possibly indicating the toll the legal battle had taken on him.

Dr Corboy, a witness for the defence, contradicted the medical evidence presented earlier, claiming that on January 7th, he found none of the symptoms described by the previous medical witnesses.

Despite the complex and contradictory testimonies, the jury ultimately sided with the plaintiff, awarding Richard Cleary £65 in damages. The court entered judgment with costs, bringing a conclusion to this unusual and contentious legal saga in the tranquil village of Rathjordan. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the tensions that can arise in close-knit rural communities, where longstanding disputes can erupt into violence with lasting consequences.

Evening Herald (Dublin) – Wednesday 29 April 1914

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