If Cats Could Talk: The Fatal Fall of a Donegal Solicitor, 1916

From the Evening Herald, 7 September 1916:

“Solicitor’s Claim for Alleged Slander etc

Today, before Mr Justice Gordon, sitting as Vacation Judge, the case of John Mackey v the Four Courts Hotel Co Ltd, and Henry G Kilbey, managing director, was listed for hearing.

The plaintiff sought damages laid at £10,000 for slander, false imprisonment, improper detinue of goods, including a claim of £1000 for being deprived of his Persian cat.  The plaintiff, who had been Sessional Crown Solicitor of Donegal, had been staying in the Four Courts Hotel, and had caused a great deal of trouble.  His luggage had been locked in the hotel for safety, and his cat had been taken care of by the staff.  He had been informed that he could get his luggage and cat after paying for their keep.  Plaintiff had smashed the panels of his bedroom door and had to be removed by the police. 

Plaintiff, who conducted his own case, said that he had lived at the Four Courts Hotel since the year 1864.  He had been “under-boots” there, and got the education which brought him his profession.”

The action was adjourned, and never came on for hearing, as the following week Mr Mackey was taken to Mercer’s Hospital, where he died from heart failure.  On the day of his death, he had called to the offices of Mr GM Meares, solicitor, in Molesworth Street, saying he felt very ill, having fallen off a cab in Henrietta Street.  Medical evidence recorded superficial bruises to his ribs but identified the actual cause of death as heart disease accentuated by inflammation.  

The Derry Journal of 18 September 1916 records a story of Mr Mackey in happier times, also involving a cab:

“Many remarkable stories are told of the eccentricities of the late Mr Mackey.  Among them is one which describes how he travelled from London to County Donegal in a taxi cab.  The story goes that he approached a taxi driver in the Strand, London, and asked him to drive him to Ramelton.  The driver, on asking where Ramelton was, learned that it was in County Donegal, Ireland.  He informed Mr Mackey that he could not undertake a journey of that kind without the authority of his employer, and he agreed to conduct him to the garage.  Here Mr Mackey entered into a contract with the proprietor in reference to the remarkable journey.  Starting from London, Mr Mackey was driven in a taxi to a place on the British coast whence the taxi the driver and Mr Mackey were conveyed to Ireland.  From the point of debarkation the journey by taxi to Ramelton was resumed and successfully completed.”

What an interesting character Mr Mackey sounds!   I dread to think of the cost of the taxi fare.

Whatever happened to the Persian cat?! 😿

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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