Instead of prison, a judge orders Irishman to climb Croagh Patrick and 'say a few prayers'

 Joseph McElwee was ordered to climb the mountain in Co Mayo by Judge Seamus Hughes after being found guilty of threatening and abusing gardaí while drunk in Donegal on March 28th last.
Father-of-two McElwee of Aughavennan, Rathmullan, came out of a pub in the seaside town and launched into a verbal tirade against gardaí which lasted more than ten minutes….
Outraged Judge Hughes, who is himself a native of Mayo, ordered McElwee to do four stations of the famous mountain as a mark of respect for his fellow Irish people, especially those in the line of duty(!)

At the time Judge Hughes instructed McElwee "I want you to come back in a month's time with evidence that you did the four stations of Croagh Patrick and say a few prayers. You then might have a different impression of Co Mayo and its people."

Unemployed McElwee, 38, returned to court yesterday and produced pictures of himself, his wife and 12 other friends climbing the mountain.

Joseph McElwee told Judge McElwee he had regretted what he had done but had managed to raise a total of €2,900 for charity during the climb.
However, he also said the publicity surrounding the case had affected his family…

Judge Hughes asked McElwee if he had found climbing the 'reek' therapeutic and if he had enjoyed the experience?
McElwee, who had no previous convictions, agreed it had.

Judge Hughes then warned McElwee not to come before him again – and certainly not for any incidents involving the abuse of gardaí.

"I hope that when you come out of a pub in the beautiful village of Rathmullan in future, you take in a deep breath of fresh air from nearby Lough Swilly and you will appreciate that gardaí are there for your own protection," said Judge Hughes.

McElwee, wearing a black shirt and black trousers, agreed.

Judge Hughes asked him if he had any complaint about donating the money raised to charities from both Donegal and Mayo and was told he had not. Judge Hughes ordered €1,450 of the cash to be given to the Donegal Hospice and the remaining €1,450 be donated to the Adult Mental Health Services at Mayo General Hospital.

He also asked for a note to be given with the donations explaining the circumstances surrounding the donations. 

Report from The Donegal Democrat.
PS - Devotees of Irish literature will note that this episode is like something cut and pasted from a John B Keane play.


  1. Roy Sheehan
    An Irishman went out one day to drink with his friends and stayed out all night. When he finally came home his wife noticed that his nose was all bloody. She asked him, "did you get into another fight?" "No" he says, "when I walked home night the sidewalk kept coming up and slamming into my face".

    The Judge was right to offer the man a more reasonable sentence because no one can support their family from jail. Also addiction to alcoholism is often broken by submitting your life to a higher power. In America this is called the 10 step program where alcoholics submit their lives and addiction to a [Higher Power] God.

    Too bad America does not have a Croagh Patrick. The hill would be climbing with alcoholics who need to support their wives and children.

  2. Great stuff
    - the charities gain,(local good causes receive donations 100% directly, are informed of the circumstances as well)
    - the convict's family/friends gain (a trip out in the fresh air / great bonding exercise)
    - the state gains (zero cost of imprisonment)
    - public servants gain (police treated with respect)
    - the convict gains (he's learned his lesson)

    All winners, no losers. We'd have a lot better deal in society as well as schools if this approach caught on again. Who says we can't learn from the past?


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