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'Lost for words': Murdered homeless man remembered as talented chef and friend to many

Hourihane was beaten to death in a “tented village” in Cork city.

Timmy pictured in 2017.
Timmy pictured in 2017.
Image: Provision Photography

A HOMELESS MAN in his fifties who was savagely beaten to death was a talented chef who had bravely battled alcohol addiction without losing his sense of humour or his spirit.

Timothy (Timmy) Hourihane, who was from west Cork was murdered in a “tented village” in Cork city. 

Timmy was found in an unconscious state by members of Cork Fire Brigade. Other homeless people had raised the alarm after a tent went on fire at Mardyke Walk near University College Cork (UCC) at 12.45am today. 

The tent owned by Hourihane was pitched on grass across the road from the Western Road entrance to the college.  Members of the fire brigade found him a short distance away. 

He had been assaulted and had sustained extremely serious injuries to his head and body. He was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital (CUH)  where he died. 

In an interview with Irish Times on Christmas day in 2017 Timmy said it was his best festive season in many a year. 

He was among the diners at Penny Dinners which provides meals to homeless people in Cork city. 

He said he was grateful to sit alongside his fellow homeless people for a special meal provided by the River Lee Hotel in Cork city.

Timothy spoke movingly of his addiction to alcohol. He said he had battled through periods of sobriety only to see his life derailed by relapses.

“I stayed off alcohol for a year and a quarter and I was proud of that. At least I am trying. I was on the Simon floor last evening but we were out at seven this morning.

“I went to mass this morning at the church down the road at half eight. I went to the Polish mass last night. There was a beautiful woman who prayed for me. It was fantastic.

This is relaxing and I feel safe. This is my happiest day for a long time. Because I went to the church. I came here. People are lovely.

Timothy spoke of going around in “circles forever” looking for accommodation. 

He mentioned his sense of loss following the death of homeless woman Kathleen O’Sullivan (43) on the streets of Cork earlier that month. 

“Homelessness is out of control. I knew Kathleen O’Sullivan the woman who died [on the streets of Cork] earlier this month. She had a good heart for me.

When you sleep on the streets you are lucky to wake up with your trainers still on. It has happened to me where I have woken up with one trainer missing. You have to laugh cos you think why didn’t they take the two?

‘Lost for words’ 

Timmy was fulsome in his praise for Caitriona Twomey who runs Penny Dinners saying that she had “the most beautiful heart in Cork city.”

Twomey said she was deeply saddened by the death of Hourihane. 

She says this is a warning to the Government that they need to do more to tackle the crisis. 

“We need to sort it now. We need more treatment centres. We need more housing. We need more support.”

Christina Chalmers of Helping Cork’s Homeless was a personal friend of Hourihane’s. She said she was in total shock but wanted the opportunity to pay tribute to Timmy.

I’m in total shock. I’m devastated. We were very close and he was very close to my family and children.

“I’m lost for words. He was the warmest kindest man. He never caused anyone any hassle. He was so kind to other homeless people. He was great fun. One year he ran in the mini-marathon for charity dressed up as a woman. That was Timmy.”

Chalmers said that Timmy was an extremely talented chef who struggled in the wake of his alcoholism. His troubles really began close to a decade ago when he lost his partner to cancer.

“Timmy nursed his partner Michael who had cancer. He lived by the train station and used to walk up and down twice a day to the hospital. When he died that is when the addiction kicked in.

Timmy had worked in prestigious restaurants in Britain and had cooked for a number of celebrities.

“He served Elton John and Lionel Richie. He loved his food. We would go to the Market Lane restaurant with him sometimes and he knew his food and dressed well for going there. I want him to be remembered for who he was. He watched out for vulnerable homeless people. My family all loved him. We are devastated,” she said. 

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Witness Appeal 

Former Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Mick Finn has called for urgent assistance for the homeless in the wake of the murder.

Finn said that this was “terrible and shocking news.”

“I am calling for an urgent state response to the living situation of the homeless. It is frightening that we have another murder in our area. It really underpins calls for more gardaí on the beat in Cork,” he said. 

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster carried out a preliminary examination of the scene at Mardyke Walk. A post-mortem was carried out at CUH. 

Gardaí have commenced interviews with other individuals living in the area where tents have sprung up in recent months. 

Individuals living in the area are from Ireland, England and Eastern Europe. There is no known motive for the assault and the area is without CCTV. 

Superintendent Michael Comyns of Anglesea Street in Cork held a media briefing at the site of the murder. 

He said that witnesses raised the alarm reporting that a tent was on fire and a man unconscious. 

Gardaí arrived at the scene and a man was taken by ambulance to the CUH where a short time afterwards he was pronounced dead. As a result of our inquiries from there we set up an incident room. The man has injuries consistent with an assault. He does not have injuries consistent with being in a fire.

Comyns said they were appealing to witnesses to the incident to come forward.

“It is a homicide investigation. For operational reasons, we are not going to release information on the injuries but he does not injuries consistent with being assaulted.”

Superintendent Comyns said they were hoping to receive dashcam footage from passing taxi drivers and motorists. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Anglesea Street Garda Station on 021 4522000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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