Kerry court sittings take place at judge’s home

Custody case among those heard in justice’s house over Christmas and New Year period

File image of Judge James O’Connor. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

File image of Judge James O’Connor. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien


A Co Kerry court sitting took place in the private residence of a District Court judge yesterday, the latest in a number of such sittings at the house over the Christmas and New Year period.

The special sitting took place to deal with a custody case. This followed the adjournment of 60 matters before Killarney District Court yesterday morning when the scheduled sitting was cancelled as people assembled and waited for Judge James O’Connor, who presides over District Number 17, the Kerry district courts.

District Court clerk Jane Harrison told the court in Killarney shortly before 11 am of the need to adjourn because the judge was ill. Up to 50 people were in the court in Killarney, including solicitors and gardaí.


People summoned or otherwise obliged to attend the January 2nd court will now have to appear then.

Three people were in court in custody, two of them having been held over the Christmas period. Both were returned to Cork Prison and will now appear before Tralee District Court today.

A third man, arrested on New Year’s Day, was at first returned to the Garda station in Killarney. However, a sitting of the court was then scheduled for 1.30pm, at Judge O’Connor’s direction at his private residence near Glenbeigh, on the Ring of Kerry.

Patrick O’Connor of Lisheen, Gneeveguilla Rathmore appeared in the booklined box room along with the court clerk, the prosecuting sergeant, three other gardaí and defence solicitor Padraig O’Connell.

The defendant was arrested on New Year’s Day, 2018, on a charge of contravening or breaching an interim barring order under the Domestic Violence Act and detained at Killarney Garda station. Gardaí said they were objecting to bail and wanted Mr O’Connor remanded in custody.


The solicitor applied for appropriate medical including psychiatric treatment and Judge O’Connor granted this.

At least four special sittings – involving the court clerk, gardaí, defence solicitors and accused – have been held at the judge’s house over the Christmas and New Year period.

According to the Courts Service, it is “not uncommon” for special court sittings to be held in judges’ homes.