A 76-year-old man has pleaded guilty to possession of hundreds of images depicting child abuse.

James Woods, with a former address at Cappanagower, The Harbour, Clare Island, was found to have graphic images and movie clips on a laptop when gardaí visited his home. 

Woods, who subsequently moved to Northern Ireland, was before Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court today. 

Judge Rory McCabe was told the material in question was "at the upper end of the spectrum" as regards seriousness.

Woods pleaded guilty to the possession and distribution of child pornography.

The material seized was so graphic that none of the images or movie clips were shown in open court. They were viewed privately by Judge McCabe in his chamber.

The judge was joined in the viewing by counsel for the State and the defence as well as by a press representative.

Pleading for leniency, barrister Diarmuid Connolly said the defendant had suffered a "spectacular and total fall from grace" in his community and he was now exiled not just from the island but from Co Mayo.

Woods will be sentenced next week.