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'It was horrific': Family of Kilkenny mother-of-two murdered in 1984 speak of ongoing anguish

Marie Tierney was found strangled on 21 December 1984.

Marie Tierney's sister Breda Fay and brother in law Paddy Fay
Marie Tierney's sister Breda Fay and brother in law Paddy Fay
Image: RTÉ Prime Time

THE FAMILY OF murder victim Marie Tierney have spoken of the family’s ongoing anguish at the fact that their sister’s killer has not been found. 

Tierney was reported missing on 22 October 1984 by her husband. She had left their house at Clintstown, Jenkinstown, Kilkenny, the evening before at around 10.30pm in the family car, a Renault 18 Estate with a registration number of 35-HIP. She did not return. 

An investigation by local gardaí located the car the following day. 

However, while a number of searches were conducted by gardaí and members of Tierney’s family and friends, she could not be located.

Tierney’s body was found in a ditch on the Bleach Road, Kilkenny two months later on 21 December. She had been strangled.

To date, over 500 lines of investigative enquiry have been opened and over 200 witness statements have been recorded. There have been no arrests made for her murder. 

Marie Tierney in the shop at Jenkinstown Marie Tierney pictured in a shop in Jenkinstown Source: RTÉ Prime Time

Tierney’s brother and sister John Bourke and Breda Fay have told RTÉ’s Prime Time that the ongoing garda investigation into the 1984 case has given them great hope that the killer might be caught. 

“To imagine your sister, that somebody would murder her. Take her life and then, that her body was dumped in a ditch,” Fay told reporter Barry Cummins. 

“That somebody would do that. That person must pay for that.” 

Exhumation

The remains of Tierney were exhumed at Conahy graveyard in Kilkenny on 31 October, and taken for examination to Waterford University Hospital. Gardaí confirmed that evening that her body had been re-interred. 

RTÉ’s Prime Time filmed with the family on that day. 

Speaking about the fact that an exhumation of Tierney’s body was necessary as part of the ongoing investigation, Bourke said it was a very tough day for the family. 

“I hope it will bring it to a conclusion, to get justice for Marie,” Bourke said. 

Tierney’s niece Deborah Ormond told Prime Time that what her aunt had suffered was horrific:

To be put in a ditch in the thick of winter. She loved her nails and appearance and always maintained herself really well. It was horrific, a horrific ending. 

The programme also filmed with gardaí on a number of occasions, as they re-opened the case last year, and this year as they evaluated a significant amount of evidence generated from fresh appeals. 

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Marie's niece Deborah Ormond and Marie's brother John Bourke Marie's niece Deborah Ormond and Marie's brother John Bourke Source: RTÉ Prime Time

Appeal

Following the exhumation, gardaí launched a fresh appeal for any member of the public who may have seen anyone walking or cycling at or near Newpark/Newpark Fenn, Kilkenny on the night of 21 October 1984 to come forward.

They also appealed to anyone who may have seen someone walking or cycling or any vehicles, including the Renault 18 35-HIP, on or near the Bleach Road, Kilkenny on the same night to come forward.

People who have not yet made themselves known to gardaí or who, for whatever reason, were unable to make themselves available to gardaí at the material time, are being appealed to by the gardaí.

“With the passage of time relationships may have changed or circumstances may have changed which may enable persons to come forward with information to gardaí that they may not have done previously,” gardaí said in a statement.

Time may have given context to something they felt was unimportant at the time but may be of assistance to the investigation. 

“We have previously had great assistance from the public in Kilkenny in relation to similar serious crimes. We wish to thank the community at large and the media for their assistance then and we again seek their help in this case.” 

People who may have information are being asked to contact An Garda Síochána in Kilkenny on 056 777 5000 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

With reporting by Cónal Thomas

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