AN 85-year-old sheep farmer who respectfully declined to erect what became known as the ‘three big boards outside Eyeries’, warning people about the danger of wandering animals, has had the charge against her dismissed.
When the case was called again at Bantry District Court last Thursday, Judge James McNulty dismissed the charge brought against Mary O’Sullivan of Hilltop House, Dreenacappara, Ardgroom, of allowing sheep to wander on the public road at Darrigroe near Eyeries.
Ms O’Sullivan stood up in court after the judgment and said: ‘Sincerest thanks.’
When he was summing up the case, Judge McNulty said he had ‘on mature reflection’ changed his mind – and granted the dismiss under the Probation Act – bearing in mind ‘the ancient rights and the way of life of a woman of great age and admirable energy.’
Commenting on her use – alongside 73 other farmers – of the 1,140-acre Kilcatherine commonage, Judge McNulty said: ‘This woman is, after all, pursuing a modest farming activity in her native place.
‘She has reared and tended her sheep since her childhood – for almost 80 years – something she learned alongside her father.’
The judge said he had considered the question as to whether traditional farming practices and rural traditions must yield to modernity, or whether modernity must yield to tradition.
He noted that the area, near Eyeries, is sparsely populated and is a relatively uncongested area of rugged beauty and he then concluded: ‘In a special place, you take it as it is.’
He added: ‘It is a matter for tourists and other road users to look out for themselves.’ And, if signage is warranted, Judge McNulty said, that would be ‘a matter for the relevant authorities.’