Times Past

Justice Sweetman at Portarlington Court on Tuesday adjourned for one month a charge of groping for fish in the River Barrow on June 16, brought against Dermot Higgins, Patrick Street, Portarlington, and Matthew Geoghegan, St Bridget’s Square, to ascertain the legal definition of “grope”.

Justice Sweetman at Portarlington Court on Tuesday adjourned for one month a charge of groping for fish in the River Barrow on June 16, brought against Dermot Higgins, Patrick Street, Portarlington, and Matthew Geoghegan, St Bridget’s Square, to ascertain the legal definition of “grope”.

Mr PA Healy, solicitor, prosecuted on behalf of the Waterford Fishery Board. Mr AG Sheedy, solicitor, defended.

James Byrne, water-keeper, said at about 4pm on that Sunday, he noticed two men in bathing trunks in the river at Ballymorris. They were in a pool called ‘The Widow’s Hill’, where he had seen salmon on the previous day. Both had sticks, and were searching the banks of the river and weeds.

Witness approached and challenged them. He knew Geoghegan, who was on the far bank, and asked him what he was doing. Geoghegan said he was swimming, and pushed his stick into the weeds. The place where Geoghegan was was 4ft deep. Higgins was in about 2ft of water. Neither of them was swimming. Witness said Geoghegan crossed the river to him. Clenching his fist and drawing back as if to hit witness, Geoghegan said if he was accused of getting fish, witness would find himself in the river.

Continuing, Mr Byrne said Higgins put his stick under the water and placed his foot on it.

Cross-examined, witness said ‘The Widow’s Hill’ was used as a bathing pool. At that time, there were about eight men there.

In evidence, Matthew Geoghegan said he and Higgins went swimming together. They were not looking for fish, as the water was too muddy.

Cross-examined, witness said they were going up and down the river, “tricking”.

Mr Healy: What were you tricking for?

Witness: We were having fun. We were moving up to another hole. I did not adopt a fighting attitude to Mr Byrne, or make an attempt to strike him.

Witness denied that the stick produced in court and alleged to have been used by him was in his possession that day.

Justice: My only difficulty is that I do not know what “groping” is.

The matter was adjourned.