Mother tried to pass heroin, cannabis and pills to son in Kilkenny Courthouse

Guilty plea entered

Court Reporter

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Kilkenny District Court

Kilkenny Court House

A Kilkenny mother who attempted to pass heroin, cannabis and tablets to her in-custody son in the precinct of the local district court has been charged with drug offences.

Ellen McDonagh, 14 Lord Edward Street, Kilkenny, pleaded guilty to three charges of having drugs for sale or supply and three charges of having illegal possession of drugs.


Evidence was heard that on June 15, 2020, while attending Kilkenny District Court, gardaí heard a commotion outside the courtroom. They went to assist prison officers and gardaí retrieved several packages of illegal drugs. They arrested Ms McDonagh.

Seized were five packages of heroin, one of cannabis herb, and a package of 40 tablets.

Ms McDonagh had 31 previous convictions, the court was told, including several for drug offences. One of these was for passing drugs to a person in custody.

Solicitor Chris Hogan said Ms McDonagh’s son was in the custody of the Prison Service. Other people were aware he was due in court. Ms McDonagh received a phone call from someone she didn’t know threatening her. They said she had to supply the drugs to her son who would pass them on to another person in prison. She was told to hand the drugs over or her life and her son’s life would be in danger.

The solicitor said the threats were so significant, and happened on a number of occasions, Ms McDonagh actually threw her phone into the river.

Mr Hogan said Ms McDonagh’s brother had died from a heroin overdose. He said there are feuds between members of Ms McDonagh’s family in prison and she was under a severe threat, that was the only reason she did it. 

He asked the court to give his client credit for her relatively early guilty plea.

Judge Geraldine Carthy asked for a Probation Report to be prepared in the case and adjourned the case to allow this, to July.