Date Published: 23-May-2011
By Ann Healy
A 45-year-old woman was found guilty by a jury yesterday evening of deliberately setting fire to her semi-detached Council house in Rahoon nearly four years ago.
The jury of eight men and four women took just an hour and a quarter to find Veronica MacAnespie, of 38 Tulach Ard, Rahoon, guilty of setting fire to her house which is owned by Galway City Council in the early hours of November 28, 2007, following a three-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.
Judge Raymond Groarke remanded Ms MacAnespie in custody to await sentence on July 13 next.
As she was being led away by a female prison officer, Ms MacAnespie kept saying, “I promise I didn’t do it judge.”
Insurance claims handler for Aviva, Brendan Keane, told the jury on the second day of the trial last Friday that Ms MacAnespie had increased the contents-only insurance cover on her home from €45,000 to €70,000 on June 21, 2007.
Geraldine Ryan from Aviva’s claims department said Ms MacAnespie rang her at 10am on November 29, 2007 – the morning after the fire – stating that she wanted to make a claim on her policy.
Ms MacAnespie denied setting fire to the house herself and claimed someone had broken into her house, burgled and ransacked it and then set it on fire while she was on her way to the train station to catch a train to Waterford to see her son that morning.
Ms MacAnespie told the jury yesterday she was on four different types of psychotropic drugs at the time of the fire and was very disorientated as a result.
She said that since her father died in 2006 she and her son were getting an awful lot of hassle from Anthony McDonagh and he had threatened to “torch” her house and kill her son. Her son had moved out and gone to live in Waterford in May 2007 as a result of the intimidation, Ms MacAnespie told the jury.
Mr McDonagh refuted MacAnespie’s allegations when he gave evidence at the trial last week. He said she was telling lies about him. He said he would never put his wife and five children in jeopardy by setting fire to a house which was attached to his own home.
Garda Darragh Ainsworth and Garda Dermot Cummins left the scene of the fire and drove down Circular Road where they encountered Ms MacAnespie walking down the road in the pouring rain with the aid of a crutch, dragging a number of large suitcases and plastic bags after her.
Her face, hands and hair were blackened by smoke and soot. There was a strong smell of petrol from her and Garda Ainsworth said he arrested her on suspicion of starting the fire.
Garda John Lavery said he found four Volvic bottles containing petrol in the kitchen, upstairs bathroom and upstairs bedroom, along with a petrol can on a step of the stairs when he examined the house after the fire.
Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.