Navan Petty Sessions 1859

Conviction under the Fishery Laws

Navan County Meath, December 6 -

Magistrates in attendance: - Robert Taaffe, Francis Murphy, Thomas Gerrard, Esquires, and Captain Derinzy, Resident Magistrate.


Some cases of no public interest having been disposed of,  James Ledwich, licensed owner of a weir on the river Boyne, and his servant man, Thomas M'Grath, appeared on the summons of John Kelly, water bailiff, on behalf of the conservators of the Drogheda Fishery District, charged with breaches of the Fishery Act.

The first case heard was that of Mr. Ledwich, " for that he did, on the 5th day of November last, between sunrise and sunset, leave hanging or set his eel net on his weir, in the river Boyne, at Old Kilcairne, in the county of Meath, contrary to the statute in such cases made and provided."

John Kelly, Water Bailiff, being sworn and examined, proved that on the day above named, about half past two o'clock, he had observed the net of Mr. Ledwich set at the place named; witness was at the time on the oppoosite bank of the river, and when he had got round he perceived that the net had been raised, and was spread out to dry; he believed the net had been set from the previous night.

Captain Derinzy said that the penalty in such cases was any sum not exceeding £5, with costs, and that the net must be forfeited.

Mr. Taaffe (to the Water Bailiff) - Have you taken the net in your possession ?

Kelly - No, sir. I considered that I had no power or authority to seize the net, as I had found it spread for the purpose of drying, and not in an illegal place and at an improper time.

Mr. Sullivan, solicitor - It might turn out a serious matter if Kelly seized a wrong net, where they are hung to dry.

Mr. Murphy considered the case proved; but he certainly was of the opinion that the bailiff should have demanded the net with which the offence had been committed, when he came round.

The offence under consideration was the first under which Ledwich was ever charged, and he (Mr. Murphy ) knew the defendant to be a man of good character, and one who, he believed would not knowingly violate the law. He thought that half a crown fine, with costs, and the forfeiture of the net, would be sufficient; but certainly, should he ever be brought before the bench again for a like offence, he would be dealing with his case vigorously.

Captain Derinzy - If we should pass this matter over so slightly, when the law warrants us in imposing any sum less than £5, my impression is that we expect further breaches of the Fishery Laws, for parties will be found to follow Ledwich's example.

The Bench consulted for some minutes, and James Ledwich promising that he would hand over the net to the bailiff, and act with the strictest caution for the future, was fined two shillings and six pence, and costs.

The charge against Thomas M'Grath had reference to the same transaction. He was charged with using the eel net on the weir of Mr. Ledwich at the same time and place. In this case M'Grath was brought before the magistrates and received a severe caution.

The Bench suggested that the case should be dismissed, Mr. Ledwich paying costs.

Mr. Sullivan - If the Bench dismiss the case, the costs must be borne by the water bailiff.

Subsequently a nominal fine of sixpence was struck and Mr. Ledwich discharged the costs.

The parties then left the court.

Source: The Irish Times, 1859