A MOTHER of three choked back tears as she alleged a farmer "bullied" her as part of a 30-year dispute over a "rough" three-acre piece of land.
Tania McBride (40) told a civil hearing how her dream of a new home in the countryside turned into a "nightmare" when farmer Noel Russell claimed the land she had bought belonged to him.
She was giving evidence at Letterkenny Circuit Civil Court defending an adverse possession claim by Mr Russell over lands at Leghaory, close to the Co Donegal village of Kilmacrennan.
Ms McBride, pictured, of Gortlee, Letterkenny, bought the plot of land in 2001 and used it for sheep and horses but with the hope of one day building a house there, the court heard.
In her evidence, the community worker told Judge Petria McDonnell that Mr Russell had threatened her on numerous occasions when she went to the land to check on it.
She claimed signs she erected warning trespassers were removed "usually within 24 hours of going up".
Asked by barrister Patricia McLaughlin, for Mr Russell, why she had become involved in the dispute, Ms McBride replied: "No one else in that area was willing to stand up to him because they wanted to keep the peace. He bullied me and I wasn't going to let him bully me."
The court heard Ms McBride bought the plot from farmers Elizabeth and Willie John Pearson.
They had bought the property – as part of a 33-acre site – from Noel Russell's uncle in 1983. In evidence, the Pearsons said Noel Russell had made several attempts to buy the plot of land from them.
"They (the Russells) were trespassing as far as I'm concerned," said Elizabeth Pearson, recalling how Noel Russell would use the land for his animals when she had owned the property.
In his evidence before the court, Mr Russell said he possessed the lands as he had farmed them with his father and his uncle since 1970.
"No one else farmed that land apart from me and my father," he told the court. He denied making offers to both the Pearsons in 2001 and to Ms McBride in 2004 to buy the land.
Judge McDonnell said she would give her ruling tomorrow.