Defamation case against historian and curator to be struck out

AN action for defamation against author and historian Sinead McCoole, former curator of the world famous Jackie Clarke Library and Archives in Ballina, is to be struck out tomorrow (Thursday) by Judge Raymond Groarke at a sitting of the Circuit Civil Court in Castlebar.

Ms. McCoole was being sued for alleged defamation by Mrs. Loretta Clarke, sister of the late Jackie Clarke, who, in his lifetime, amassed a huge collection of material relating to historical figures such as Wolfe Tone, Michael Collins, Michael Davitt and leading Fenian O'Donovan Rossa.

The collection, which also includes personal items associated with the leaders of the 1916 Rising, is regarded as one of the most important archives of Irish historical material in the world. The archive, which is housed in Ballina, has been gifted in perpetuity to Mayo County Council.

When the case was called at the Circuit Civil Court in Castlebar today (Wednesday), Mr. Diarmuid Connolly, counsel for Mrs. Clarke, said she had a broken hip and was unable to attend to prosecute her case.

Mr. Eoin Garavan (counsel for the defendant) asked Judge Groarke for a dismiss. He said the case had been listed for hearing on two occasions but was never reached.

Mr. Garavan spoke of the distress caused to Ms. McCoole and added: 'This has also plagued her family.'

Judge Groarke explained that he would travel to the plaintiff's residence, near Crossmolina, at 3.30 p.m. to hear evidence.

Prior to travelling, the judge appealed to lawyers on both sides to 'redouble your efforts' to have the matter resolved.

'It is an extremely sad state of affairs that it has come to this,' the judge stated adding that former friends had fallen out and 'an extremely worthwhile project' had also suffered.

He added: 'I want this matter resolved. There has to be a straight and simple solution. If there isn't I will deal with this case and I will start it at half-three.'

When Judge Groarke arrived in Crossmolina he was informed by lawyers for Mrs. Clarke that the matter could be struck out.

Judge Groarke is to officially strike out the case when the Circuit Civil Court resumes in Castlebar tomorrow morning (Thursday).

There was no comment from either side today as to the settlement that has been reached.

Sinead McCoole, who was appointed curator of the Jackie Clarke Library and Archives in 2007, played a major role in sorting out the Jackie Clarke Collection, which comprises over 100,000 items spanning some 400 years