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Dublin: 14°C Friday 19 August 2022

Bertie Ahern opens up about his grandfather's suicide for the first time

Maurice Ahern died “due to shock and haemorrhage due to gunshot wounds to the chest, self-inflicted”.


FORMER TAOISEACH BERTIE Ahern has spoken publicly for the first time about his grandfather’s suicide. 

On tonight’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are on RTÉ One, Ahern opens up about his grandfather Maurice’s death, who died after Bertie’s father Con decided not to take on the family farm, choosing to go to Dublin instead.

This went against his father Maurice’s wishes but Con would not change his mind and the farm went to his younger brother instead.

The former Fianna Fáil leader travelled to the Ahern family farm in Cork where he was given the news report on the inquest into Maurice’s death. 

The coroner found that Maurice Ahern died on 3 September 1933, “due to shock and haemorrhage due to gunshot wounds to the chest, self-inflicted” aged 70.

“His wife had died just six months before that and then my father had left against his wishes. As I understand it from the timing of the incident, that was the story.

“It was a sad end to him because he apparently was a very hard-working man,” Ahern said. 

However, Bertie says that his father made sure that Maurice’s death was spoken about openly, so it was not a family secret. 

Ahern said that back then not many people would have ever spoken about suicide “because at that time people covered that up”.

But my father, I think for his own reason, made sure that we all understood that.

Referencing remarks he made about suicide while he was Taoiseach that caused some controversy, Ahern said: 

“I remember at one time getting myself into a bit of political argument about using the word even though it is regularly done on sports programmes and others, I did it on a political programme and some of the people who wouldn’t have loved me said ‘if you understood it in your family, you wouldn’t have said that’.

“Now, I didn’t bother saying that I understood it very well in my family because I had grown up listening to that.”

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PastedImage-28071 Bertie’s grandfather Maurice Ahern Source: RTÉ/YouTube

Bertie goes on to say that his father Con Ahern never returned to the family farm after Maurice’s death.

“My father after that funeral went back, never to return again for the rest of his life.

“He died in 1990 so it was 57 years. He never came back to any of the funerals of his brothers or sisters even though he kept in touch.

“It must have been very hard on all the family that was living in the area but, thankfully, they stayed put, they stayed on the land, stayed in the farm and stayed in the house and we’re here today in the exactly the same house as it was at that time,” he said.

Who Do You Think You Are airs tonight on RTÉ One at 9.30pm.

Need help? Support is available:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

About the author:

Adam Daly

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