Jingle bills and the €500,000 HIgh Court battle for a hedge
I GOT caught singing along to a Christmas song in Tesco on Saturday night.
Unbeknownst to me some festive jingle got me right in the mood and there I was singing along in an aisle to my heart’s content to the amusement of a fellow shopper, who looked at me as if to say ‘what kind of eejit are you’. He wasn’t laughing with him he was laughing at me.
It wasn’t a case of getting caught by someone who found it funny. No, I would have to get caught by someone who thought I was the most pathetic specimen of humanity he had every seen, and for what, singing along to a traditional Christmas song.
As this complete stranger’s face transformed into a giant sneer of derision and disapproval, his glowering eyes pinned me to the spot and I felt the supermarket walls close in and all semblance of Christmas spirit fade away in one foul swoop.
In my defence it had been a long 24 hours with The Good Woman away at her Christmas party so I was up late and early with the teething all-too-frequent alarm clock and master of destruction that is The Little Fella.
Undaunted by my latest singing critic, the infectiousness of this time of year returned, (no time for trifling distractions when you have an overjoyed Whirlwind Princess to enterain with I Spy Twinkling Lights games and Jingle Bells sung ad infinitum in the car from New Ross to Gorey and back).
Can anyone but the most Grinch-hearted avoid the mirth of Christmas, with everything, everywhere screaming nostalgia and happiness.
Now that the lights are hung, the tree is up and Christmas music is on the radio, (albeit somewhat alternative Christmas songs courtesy of Sufjan Stevens), there is much to be happy about.
Seeing my children’s face light up at the sight of the Christmas tree and their excitement as the days tick down to Christmas puts everything else in perspective and hammers home the fact that Christmas is all about the children.
Of course for every happy occasion there are many in the media which have you questioning humanity.
The case of a County Wicklow couple embroiled in a legal battle with their neighbours over a hedge, which will cost them €500,000 in legal fees, got me thinking of all the civil court cases I covered down through the years in which similar leafy battles were fought out before an increasingly glassy eyed judge. In the aforementioned case the couple lost. Lost a €500,000 case over a few feet of hedge. James and Ann Madigan are now be looking at a legal bill as high as €500,000 after a decade long bitter dispute and two court battles ended in defeat in the High Court. The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said if the events of this case had featured in the plot of The Field audiences might have regarded them as too implausible to be credible.
Justice Kearns said: ‘John John B Keane’s play there was a field at stake between the protagonists. In this case it is not more than a few feet of hedge.’
Mr Justice Kearns, who at the outset of the High Court action pleaded with both sides to take an ‘11th-hour opportunity’ to settle and avoid huge legal costs, said it was almost impossible to understand how such a dispute could have taken seven days of court time in the Circuit Court and a similar amount of time in the High Court.
The judge also awarded all costs against the Madigans. Having sat through lengthy civil land cases I can see just how this could happen, to no distress to the legal teams involved.
The case was before the High Court by way of an appeal from the Circuit Court which last year found in favour of James and Ann Madigan and awarded them a total of €5,000 damages for trespass and nuisance and said they were entitled to a right of way onto the laneway for the purpose of maintaining their hedge grow.
Neighbours Kathleen Maureen Rueter and Marian and Sean Rueter, who run a caravan park near the beach, had appealed that decision to the High Court.
The court heard that an open offer had been made at the start of the appeal by the Rueters to settle the case, which included €20,000 contribution towards legal costs previously incurred.
At the centre of the case was the alleged widening of the entrance to the laneway where it meets the public road and which the Madigans claimed encroached on their property.
Mr Justice Kearns ruled that all of the Madigan claims must fail and he granted a declaration that the Rueters are entitled to exclusive ownership, possession, and/or occupation of the laneway, including the hedge. The Field sequel has a name.
James and Ann Madigan who are facing a €500,000 bill over a court case about a hedge.