Ballina Man Shoots at Cat, Hits Youth a Mile Away, 1951

Ballina, Mayo, Ireland, via the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

From the Ballina Herald, 20 January 1951:




(Exclusive Report)

Next time you see a stray cat on the garden wall, don’t do as Muredach Sweeney, Ardnaree, did, or you may find yourself as he did, in Ballina Court, charged with firing a gun near a public street, and not having a firearms certificate.

It was unfortunate that the bullet discharged at the cat should have come to earth in the shoulder of a young Ballina man at the local post office, wounding him and necessitating attention by a doctor, and thus setting the Guards on the track of every 22 rifle in Ballina.

The whole story emerged in Ballina Court on Tuesday evening, when Mr James Gilvarry, solicitor appearing for defendant, said that on 17th July the defendant while removing some papers from his brother’s coat, as instructed, came across a clip containing two bullets.  He got the rifle and loaded it.  He then saw a cat who had been giving trouble before that.  He fired at the cat at a sloping angle, in the direction of the cathedral, but missed the cat.  The bullet, unfortunately, hit a young man at Ballina Post Office.  His client gave every possible assistance to the Guards, who should be congratulated on the manner in which they tackled the job.  His client was not sure of the evening he fired the shot, and he did not know that he was responsible at first.  He had fired at a sloping angle in the direction of the cathedral but the wind must have caught the bullet and brought it round.

Supt Kilroy asked the Justice to take a serious view of the case and said it was an irresponsible action to fire the rifle at the cat.  The bullet lodged in the shoulder of a young man practically a mile away and he had to be attended to by a doctor.  If the bullet had hit him in the eye he might have lost his life and the defendant might have been before the Court on a different charge altogether.  It was only a couple of months after, when he knew the Guards were inquiring, that he came forward, when he saw that things were getting hot, and it was only when all the rifles in the whole area were gone through that the ballistics department discovered the correct rifle. He asked that a serious view be taken to show people they couldn’t use rifles without certificates.

Mr Gilvarry said his client fired in another direction altogether.  His only fault was in taking a crack at the cat.  ‘Was the cat flying?’ asked the Justice amid laughter.

A fine of £10 was imposed on each charge.”

Top Image Credit

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

Leave a Reply