A decision by a District Judge in a Small Claims Court in County Laois last week may well have consequences for motorists all over the country. The case against the local authority was taken by a woman whose car struck a pothole resulting in two burst tyres that cost her €184 to replace.

The main issue as far as Judge Gerard Haughton was concerned was whether the pothole was caused by natural wear or whether it had been badly repaired. In other words, in law, the County Council was not liable for damage caused by potholes created by the weather and normal wear and tear but it was liable for damage caused by potholes that had not been properly repaired.

Counsel for the Local Authority insisted the pothole was the result of normal wear and tear but, after looking at photographs, Judge Haughton found that the pothole had been repaired shortly before the incident occurred but had not been repaired properly. He then awarded the woman her claim for compensation and costs. I may be wrong but the words ‘floodgates’ and ‘avalanche’ spring to mind!

Hurley ‘weapon’ owner traced

Last week, I wrote about a hurley being confiscated by police in Toronto at protest riots during the visit to the city of the G20 world leaders. Displayed by police with other ‘weapons’ such as swords, machetes and sling-shots, its appearance in the line-up sparked much discussion.

Now, however, the mystery has been partly solved as the owner, identified by markings on the handle, has been identified as Padraig Kelleher from Crecora in County Limerick who used to play his hurling with the Shannonside Fedamore club.

But it wasn’t Padraig who wielded the hurley against the G20 leaders because, even though he was in Canada at the time, he was nowhere near Toronto. When he left the city to work in another part of the country he left his hurling gear behind and it is still a mystery as to how one of his camans popped up where it did!

‘Shillalahs in Swing Time’

Incidentally, I wasn’t aware until recently that Hollywood film directors took an interest in hurling during the 1930s when the GAA first began to organise exhibition games in the United States. The poster for one film, shot in 1936 by the director Pete Smith, shows a mighty melee of bodies and hurleys and attempts to attract viewers with the following words: ‘Hurling – Shillalahs in Swing Time as thirty wild Irishmen demonstrate their game of athletic assault and battery.’

This epic can be seen in Langton’s Set Theatre in Kilkenny on Monday, August 9th at 7pm as part of the city’s Arts Festival.

Radio record

A very interesting radio experiment and record was achieved last weekend when several teams of ham radio enthusiasts made their way to Inish Boffin and Clare Island in Clew Bay to take part in an international 24-hour exercise that linked island communities around the world.

Overall, about 6,000 stations on all five continents participated in the project and 3,000 of those stations were located on remote islands. The guys in Clew Bay islands managed to make contact with more than 1500 island stations during the 24 hour experiment. Some of the locations were so remote that it was necessary to use Morse Code as opposed to voice signals.

One doesn’t often hear about ham-radio these days but, some years ago, an operator broadcasting from Hillview in Waterford city regularly held conversations with the late King Hussein of Jordan who was an avid radio fan.

Goodbye to the Hurricane

Most people, especially those of us who marvelled at him in his prime, heard the news of the death of Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins with great sadness. He had battled throat-cancer for more than ten years and, sadly, his final years were rough for him in more ways than one. Despite his wayward ways, Alex Higgins was held in high esteem and was one of those rare heroes, a true people’s champion. Curiously, my own snooker-mad mother, who didn’t drink and was a very conservative person, loved both Higgins and George Best and wouldn’t hear a bad word spoken about either of them. It was a total, blanket support that couldn’t be shaken and, no matter what scrapes they got themselves into, she was always adamant that, whatever had occurred, it certainly wasn’t their fault. Sometimes, when the tabloid newspapers went into overdrive, she would admonish me insisting that it was ‘all your crowd’s fault’. If there is a heaven, Maureen would have been at the front of the crowd waiting to welcome The Hurricane into paradise.

Alcohol – the evil blood of Satan!

On one of the few sunny days we had last week, Paddy was enjoying the fresh air at a table outside T&H Doolin’s Bar in Georges Street. He was minding his own business when his thoughts were interrupted by a middle-aged nun who started to berate him about drinking in public in the middle of the day.

“You should be ashamed of yourself young man. Drinking is a sin because alcohol is the blood of Satan himself.”

Normally, a quietly spoken person, Paddy resented the nun’s invasion of his privacy. “And how do you know that, Sister, have you ever had a drink yourself”, he asked in a cold voice.

“Don’t be ridiculous, of course I haven’t let alcohol pass my lips”, replied the nun.

“Well, I’ll tell you what”, said Paddy, “let me get you a drink. You can sip it slowly and then tell me if your whole world collapses or if Satan suddenly appears at your shoulder.

The nun hesitated, obviously tempted to take up the challenge but she then thought better of it and said: “I can’t be seen to be drinking, my Reverend Mother would never condone such a thing even if it was to prove to you that alcohol is evil.”

Paddy wasn’t going to give in at that stage so he said: “Don’t worry, I’ll fetch you the drink in a coffee cup and then nobody will be any the wiser.”

The nun made herself comfortable at the table in a seat next to Paddy’s while he went into the pub and asked the barman to pour him a treble-vodka and tonic in a coffee cup. As Paddy returned outside with his coffee cup of vodka, the barman turned to his colleague and grinned. “That fecking nun is some operator, that’s the fourth eejit she’s got to buy her a drink this week.”