There was shock and anger in Ballyhaunis District Court on Tuesday morning when it emerged that it would probably be the last time the court would sit in the town after over 150 years of administering justice in east Mayo. The news was later confirmed by the Court Service, although there was no definite date for the closure or decision on where the court will move to.
The court, which was due to start at 10.30am, did not get going until closer to 11am, because the “news had filtered down” to Judge Mary Devins. The judge apologised for the delay.
At this stage, solicitor Evan O’Dwyer interjected and asked to speak. O’Dwyer said the court would be closing and that a colleague of his in Australia was able to inform him of the news, despite no official word coming through to him or the Mayo Solicitors’ Association.
Judge Devins said she was told by a woman in a shop earlier that morning that the court would be closing. She said: “I have received no official notification of this,” and, “strangely I stopped in a shop in Charlestown this morning to buy the papers and the lady in the shop was able to tell me.”
The decision which was made on Monday night by the Board of the Court Services, approved the closure of not only Ballyhaunis but also Swinford courthouse. However on Tuesday morning no official word had been passed down to the District Court office in Castlebar. Judge Devins said: “I stopped and rang Mr Peter Mooney of the Court Service in Castlebar and all he was able to tell me was that as far as he knew a meeting was due to take place last night [Monday] on the issue, but it didn’t and was expected to take place later this week.”