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.  He lived in Donegal with honour for many years, but had to leave it, and at present had to live with friends in Dublin.”

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.  At the subsequent inquest, a police officer gave evidence that he had heard the statements about the deceased falling from a cab, but no report of any such occurrence had been made at any police station and there was no evidence of such an incident having occurred.

The above proceedings were not the first in which Mr Mackey had been involved in a personal capacity.  In 1890 he had been forced to defend a civil action for assault after having struck with a sword a man who had broken a window of his home.  Mackey’s counsel asserted that he had acted in perceived self-defence as a result of threats previously received, and that the case was being pushed on with the object of ruining his client’s career.  The jury found in Mackey’s favour, allowing him to retain his position as Sessional Prosecutor.

Mr Mackey seems to have been under some financial pressure in the period leading up to his death.  In 1915, at an auction of his farm equipment, he accused a John McClure of having stolen a bridle bit and struck him a blow on the face; this resulted in a subsequent action by McClure for damages.  The same year, he sued the father of a former apprentice for alleged short-charging on the apprenticeship fee.  

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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