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Salthill stabbing death: woman guilty of manslaughter



Date Published: 28-Jan-2013

By Ann Healy

A Connemara woman was found guilty by a jury yesterday of the manslaughter of her former lover in a Salthill apartment during Race Week two years ago.

Maura Thornton (31), a native of Spiddal with a more recent address in Inverin, Connemara, had denied the murder of US national Kevin Joyce (59) at a rented apartment at 183 Upper Salthill on Sunday, July 31, 2011, during a six-day trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Galway.

The jury of three women and nine men returned a unanimous verdict at 12.30pm yesterday following three hours and eight minutes of deliberations, finding the accused ‘not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter’.

The jury had spent two hours deliberating last Friday afternoon but when they failed to reach a verdict by 4pm that day, Mr Justice Barry White sent them home for the weekend.

They resumed their deliberations yesterday morning and returned to the courtroom at around 12.30pm with their unanimous verdict.

Mr Justice White remanded the accused on continuing bail to appear before the Central Criminal Court sitting in Dublin on March 11 next at 11am for sentence. He directed the preparation of a victim impact statement to be taken in the interim from relatives of the deceased living in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mr Blaise O’Carroll SC defending said he would need the time also to prepare a plea in mitigation and get medical reports prior to sentencing.

Ms Thornton sat motionless, accompanied by her mother Breege Ridge Thornton and her mother’s partner, Brendan Lydon, when the verdict was read out. They turned and nodded to each other before being approached by their legal team.

Outside afterwards, her mother said she and her daughter were relieved and delighted the trial was over.

Evidence had been heard during the trial of how Mr Joyce had been in a brief relationship with the accused which ended in the weeks before his death.

He had phoned her 37 times that Sunday and was acutely intoxicated to a dangerously high level when he arrived outside her apartment at around 10pm that night.

Thornton’s mother told the jury her daughter went out in a rage to confront Joyce, carrying a kitchen knife. She said she looked out through the window and saw her daughter carry out a punching action with the knife in her hand. She saw the victim fall.

A post mortem revealed Mr Joyce had been stabbed three times in the back – once on the back of the neck and twice on the left shoulder.

Ms Thornton later admitted during Garda interviews that when the victim fell on his back, she sat astride him on the ground and “prodded” him fifteen more times in the upper left shoulder and chest area with the knife. Two of those stab wounds, which were 9 cm deep, proved fatal as they punctured his left lung and pulmonary artery in two places.

Ms Thornton was also highly intoxicated at the time, having drank two bottles of whiskey and several cans of cider in the hours leading up to the attack.

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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