Slowly, they are beginning to piece together the menu.
We know they started with oysters and other “nice canapes”, as barrister Eddie Walsh put it.
Then they had starters, a “substantial” main course – which might have been lamb or salmon, one of the waitresses thought – with desserts, followed by “cheese, crackers and olives”.
We are confident prosecuting counsel Eoghan Cole SC will manage to root out the remaining details when the Golfgate trial resumes next month.
There were drinks, naturally. And afterwards, “30 or so” of the guests who were residents in the Station House Hotel made their way to the residents’ bar where there was “drinking, chatting, singing”, barman Anthony Curran told the court.
On day two of the Golfgate trial, former attorney general and distinguished member of the judiciary, Séamus Woulfe was called to the witness box and took the oath. “Good morning, Judge Fahy,” said the Supreme Court judge courteously to Galway District Court Judge Mary Fahy before proceeding to tell the court how he became involved in this saga.
He had got to know former senator Paul Coghlan down the years – his daughter, Mairéad, is a barrister, Judge Woulfe said, adding that he received an invitation to attend the Oireachtas Golf Society event the previous year, in 2019, when he had a very enjoyable day. “They’re a very nice group of people,” he informed Eoghan Cole BL for the prosecution.
“No doubt,” said Mr Cole.
Back then, a verbal invitation had been extended to come along again the following year and he remembered to enquire about it the following summer and was duly invited.
Mr Woulfe and his family had planned a holiday in Donegal but he checked with the then Chief Justice and then with his wife to see if he could go to the golf society event in Clifden, the court was told. Both approved him to attend, he said – though his wife thought he was “mad” to be driving from Donegal to Galway.
Sure enough, it turned out to be a four- or five-hour drive and he recalled being “very tired” at the dinner.
He had his back to the retractable wall behind him. It was a white wall but he did not pay it much attention.
“When you’re attorney general you get invited to a lot of dinners and you become fairly oblivious to the surroundings around you,” he said. There was an element of being “wheeled out”, he revealed.
After the drinks and the speeches, he left and went out to the lobby where he had a post-dinner drink.
In the witness box, Judge Woulfe carried a hefty folder which he said contained details of Covid statutory instruments and guidelines and which he offered to read in court but Judge Fahy said they had already been furnished with those.
He considered the rules at that particular point in time to carry a certain degree of ambiguity.
“Was a gathering 50 people in one room in a hotel or was it 50 people in the premises…50 people in the building, or if a hotel had two buildings was it 50 people in the overall hotel premises?” he questioned.
And he thought it was “significant” that the guidelines were published with the official harp of the Irish Government.
He left the courtroom in a rush to an awaiting car, the court clerk carrying his bag.
Former senator Lorraine Higgins told the court she had formerly been captain of the Oireachtas Golf Society. And had she been involved in organising such events? Michael McDowell, SC representing accused Independent TD Noel Grealish, asked. No, she had not, she replied, agreeing that the role of captain is more of a “chief golfer”.
She had been in the first room at the event – in fact, she wasn’t even aware of a second room, she said, adding she heard about it through the media. “All of the main people were in the room so I had no reason to believe there was anybody else there,” she said.
With the trial suspended until early February, there was time for Mr McDowell and his client Noel Grealish to nip in across the road to the Town Hall Theatre – where the media covering the trial were ensconced.
The barrister was there to view an old photo of another Oireachtas ‘gathering’ – this time, the 1913 Oireachtas pictured outside this very building, and which included his grandfather, Eoin MacNeill, the former minister of education. Circuit Court judge Catriona McDonnell had told him to call in to see it.
Peering closely at it, he did not think he resembled his grandfather, saying: “He was more successful at holding on to his hair than I was.”