Court hears land dispute in Cork led to personal injury and harassment claims

Court hears land dispute in Cork led to personal injury and harassment claims

A row involving the 'constant' cutting of grass on an unregistered patch of ground led to a personal injuries claim and allegations that the sending of Christmas cards amounted to harassment.

Clonakilty Circuit Court heard that at one stage in the dispute over the land in Aglish Cross in Coachford, a twine fence was put up each morning by one of the defendants, and taken down each night by one of the two plaintiffs, Martin Finn.

Mr Finn and the second plaintiff, Margaret Murphy, and their son, Brian, cited the cutting of grass on the disputed plot by one of the defendants as part of their claim.

Margaret Murphy, a 68-year-old from Casement Road in Bandon, said the land is outside her son’s house, next door to two of the defendants in the case, Jerry and Bridie O'Leary. Ms O'Leary is Margaret's sister.

The other defendants were Brian O'Leary, son of Jerry and Bridie, Jerry, Denis and John Murphy, who are brothers of both Margaret Murphy and Bridie O'Leary, Mary Byrnes, a neighbour in Aglish Cross, and Patrick Clifford, son-in-law of Jerry and Bridie O'Leary.

Margaret O'Leary said: "Jerry O'Leary is cutting the grass constantly past David's house."

She claimed since 2014, Bridie O'Leary had taken photographs as she passed by in her car, a claim Ms O'Leary rejected, telling the court her phone is so old it might not even be capable of taking pictures.

Ms Murphy said of receiving Christmas cards from Bridie: “it was harassing me".

Defence barrister Cian Cotter said Jerry O'Leary had been maintaining the grass on the disputed plot since 1980 and that while it had been fenced off for a period in 2014, linked to a registration application, once the objection was lodged by Ms Murphy and Mr Finn, the application was withdrawn and the fence removed.

Ms Finn and Ms Murphy said the other named defendants had backed Jerry and Bridie O'Leary's registration bid, or in Mr Clifford's case, erected the twine fence.

Martin Finn told the court that the first he heard of the registration attempt was on June 5, 2014 when the temporary twine fence was erected. The court heard Brian O'Leary had cut the grass "about four times" but not since 2014, and Ms Murphy also said she had not seen Jerry Murphy for the past five years.

Mr Finn said while the fence was erected daily, he took it down every night from June 23 to July 6 that year.

David Murphy, giving evidence, described the situation as "absolute hell", alleging that Jerry and Bridie O'Leary were taking down car registration numbers and taking pictures, sometimes as early as 7.11am - claims completely they completely denied.

"All I want is peace," Brian Murphy said. As for Jerry O'Leary "constantly cutting grass" he said: “He is doing it on purpose to us."

Bridie O'Leary said she told her sister in 2008 about the intention to apply for registration. And she said: "I send her a Christmas card, I have been sending her [the cards] these last 40 years. I have no objection against her.

"All I want to do is cut the grass and keep it clean outside the house."

Judge O'Donnabhain said: "There is a level of hysteria created in this case which I am struggling to understand", adding the case was "misconceived".

He said some of the defendants joined to the case had not even been seen in the area since 2014, adding: "That is wrong.”

The case was settled on the basis of a joint application to the land registry with Judge O'Donnabhain reserving the issue of costs.

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