Five men have pleaded guilty and one has been cleared in a case involving a violent row between Traveller families at a funeral in Mayo, the Mayo News has reported. Castlebar Circuit Court heard that, during the row, Martin ‘Black’ McDonagh of Letterkenny was hit with a slash hook and a sergeant had to use a cloth and nappy to staunch the blood that was “spurting” from the open wound.
Martin ‘Hackney’ McDonagh of 125 Manor Village, Castlebar pleaded not guilty to charges of violent disorder and producing a carpet knife at St Colman’s Church, Claremorris on October 10, 2011.
Five members of his family - Owen McDonagh, Saleen, Castlebar; Bernard McDonagh, 5 Knockthomas, Castlebar; Gerard McDonagh, Saleen, Castlebar; Charles McDonagh, 7,Garryduff, Castlebar and Thomas McDonagh, 123 Manor Village, Castlebar - pleaded guilty to violent disorder during the same incident. They will be sentenced on June 28.
The court heard that a violent brawl erupted outside the church while the funeral of Patrick Collins was taking place.
Martin ‘Hackney’ McDonagh said that there had been something amounting to “more than a feud” between the McDonaghs from Letterkenny and the McDonaghs from Castlebar for a number of years. He said his family were “always the injured party”.
The Mayo News reported that “there was tense atmosphere inside the courthourse during the hearings” and “gardaí had to remove a man from the courthouse who was verbally abusing members of the McDonagh family from Donegal”.
Martin ‘Black’ McDonagh said he was near the gates of the church at around 10.30am, talking to his two sons, Martin Junior and Thomas. Four men came running toward them, three carrying slash hooks and one carrying a machete-like knife. He tried to run but either fell or was tripped and was hit on the head with a slash hook.
When he got up, he continued, he saw his son Martin McDonagh Junior and the defendant, Martin ‘Hackney’ McDonagh, fighting.
Diarmaid Connolly, counsel for the defence, claimed that the Letterkenny McDonaghs were “taking the opportunity to blacken” all the Castlebar McDonaghs, that Martin ‘Hackney’ hadn’t been involved in the row. Martin Junior said he was, that he fought with him and that he’d been carrying a carpet knife.
Garda Karol Murray told the court he saw Martin ‘Black’ McDonagh’s face ‘covered in blood’ and a wound at the back of his head was ‘spurting’ out blood. A man was wielding a slash hook over his head and another man was brandishing an axe. He said the attackers were ‘roaring abuse’ at the injured party and attempts were made to stop him making an arrest.
Sgt Regina Carley said Martin ‘Black’ McDonagh had a “very open wound” and she used a cloth and a nappy from a nearby car to apply pressure to the wound before an ambulance arrived.
Defending counsel Diarmuid Connolly said no forensics or fingerprints were found at the scene relating to Martin ‘Hackney’ McDonagh.
The jury took just over two hours to find Martin McDonagh not guilty of both charges.