TWO Skibbereen neighbours have been told by a District Court Judge to ‘keep the sun shining’ in a dispute over a damaged wall, that saw both parties end up in the Small Claims Court.
Judge Mary Dorgan made the remark to both John and Josie O’Driscoll, and Fachtna Collins, at a recent sitting of Skibbereen District Court.
The court heard that John and Josie O’Driscoll, with an address at Big Marsh, Church Cross, Skibbereen, alleged that cattle belonging to Fachtna Collins, also of Big Marsh, Church Cross, Skibbereen, damaged a wall belonging to them. They were seeking money for the repair of the wall.
It is alleged that on Saturday morning June 11th last year Mr Collins was moving his herd of cattle from his farmyard to his paddock, which entailed passing the property of John and Josie O’Driscoll on the public road.
Mrs O’Driscoll claimed his cows (approximately 130) stampeded in groups and collided with their boundary wall, knocking the pillar and cap stone and damaging the cattle grid and side wall.
Giving evidence in court, Josie O’Driscoll said that on the morning in question she saw Mr Collins’ cattle enter her drive and knock the pillar off the wall.
‘I saw the damage they done and they knocked the caps off the pillar,’ said Mrs O’Driscoll.
‘There was an offer of €100 to fix the wall from Mr Collins but it cost €185 to repair.’
Mr Collins said being in court was the last place he wanted to be and he testified that he was with the cattle that morning and he saw no damage being done when they passed.
‘I received correspondence in July from Josie saying she had an estimate for the cost of the pillar, but I replied back to say we weren’t responsible for it. Then in September we received a letter from the Small Claims Court,’ said Mr Collins.
‘There is damage to the wall, but I’m not responsible for it. She is claiming the wall is cracked but it’s been cracked for the last 10 years.’
Mr Collins said he had no idea who damaged the wall and added that his son was at the back of the cattle herd and didn’t see any damage being done. He also added that he did not see Josie O’Driscoll in the driveway on the morning in question.
On hearing the evidence, Judge Dorgan said she had to believe Josie O’Driscoll’s version of events but added there were some things she wasn’t happy about, especially with neighbours not being able to sort it out.
‘I’ve every sympathy for farmers driving cows as I’ve been the herder, too and I’m conscious of the fact you are two neighbours and this has to stop,’ said Judge Dorgan.
‘Shake your hands here in court and put your best foot forward and I want a respectful co-existence to occur with both sides.
‘This shouldn’t be before the court. This is the last place where you should be today. Fix the wall as a gesture, or alternatively make a payment of €180.’
Judge Dorgan also said that you had to take the rough and the smooth when you had 130 cows.
‘The two of you need to be respectful of each other and hopefully this will be the end of it. Keep the sun shining,’ she said.
Judge Dorgan ordered Fachtna Collins to pay €180 within eight weeks to Josie O’Driscoll or alternatively fix the wall as a goodwill gesture.