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Mourner who fell into open grave settles claim

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‘Tremendous shock’: Margaret Walsh of Connolly Park, Tralee, Co Kerry leaves the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

‘Tremendous shock’: Margaret Walsh of Connolly Park, Tralee, Co Kerry leaves the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

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‘Tremendous shock’: Margaret Walsh of Connolly Park, Tralee, Co Kerry leaves the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

A woman who fell into an open grave as she sympathised with the chief mourner at a funeral has settled a High Court action for damages.

Margaret Walsh (77) sued the undertakers, the gravediggers and the council that owns the graveyard in Balgriffin, north Dublin.

The defendants denied her claims of negligence.

Ms Walsh, of Connolly Park, Tralee, Co Kerry, was attending the funeral nearly nine years ago of a first cousin when she fell into the grave and allegedly hurt her back, arm, hip and neck.

She claimed that on September 3, 2011 when she toppled into the grave, earth started coming in on top of her and she suffered a tremendous shock.

Her cheeks were also sore and she had been hit in the face by her handbag as she fell.

It was claimed she had to spend 10 days in hospital and a consultant doctor noted she sustained multiple soft tissue injuries in a very unusual accident from which she was allegedly quite traumatised.

When the case came before Mr Justice Michael Hanna yesterday, he was told it had been settled. The judge was told the case could be struck out against all parties with costs against all the defendants except the graveyard owners, Fingal County Council, which is not liable for any costs.

The details of the settlement are confidential.

Ms Walsh had sued undertakers, Allied Funeral Services trading as Stafford and Jennings North Strand Road, Dublin, and Allied Funeral Services Ireland Ltd of the same address; Fingal County Council; and gravediggers Paul Tierney and Martin Molloy trading as Tierney Molloy of Kileek, St Margarets, Co Dublin.

She claimed she was allowed to walk near the open grave when the defendants ought to have known it was unsafe and dangerous for her to do so.

There was an alleged failure to warn her of the dangers, she claimed.

It was further claimed there was a failure to provide a secure foothold and to properly guard or fence the open grave. Ms Walsh also claimed the open grave created a trap for her.

It was further claimed there was a failure to institute an adequate system of inspection and maintenance of the open grave, whereby the alleged defect in the excavation guarding of the grave might have been detected and remedied.

Ms Walsh did not suffer a bone injury but claimed she was sore around the thoracic region and lower back and was stiff and had restricted movement of her left shoulder after the accident.

It was claimed Ms Walsh was extremely emotionally upset and embarrassed.

She claimed she was restricted in her ordinary everyday activities and her ability to work had also been affected.

Irish Independent