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Dublin: 2°C Wednesday 14 April 2021
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Shock in rural Cork community as three brothers found dead

They have been named locally as brothers Patrick (60), William (66) and John (59) Hennessy.

Ambulance crew at the scene near Kilacluig, close to Mitchelstown, after the body of the third brother was found.
Ambulance crew at the scene near Kilacluig, close to Mitchelstown, after the body of the third brother was found.
Image: PA

A RURAL COMMUNITY in Co Cork is in shock tonight after the discovery of the bodies of three brothers found in an apparent murder-suicide.

Named locally as brothers Patrick (60), William (66) and John (59) Hennessy – all three were found dead after an extensive garda operation.

The horrific events began last night at 11.40pm when gardaí went to an isolated farm house in the townland of Curragorm – located about five kilometres from the North Cork town of Mitchelstown.

Gardaí found the body of a man who had died from head injuries. They immediately sealed off the scene and called in Armed Support units.

The armed gardaí then entered an outhouse where they discovered a second man, also with devastating head injuries. Initially, the men were identified as Patrick and John.

Gardaí issued an urgent nationwide alert within the force for the whereabouts of William, known as Willie – who they believed was missing. They were also searching for a red Toyota Corolla van.

Investigators later realised that the missing brother was John and that William had died at the scene. 

A media appeal to trace the van was issued this morning. It was found shortly after 10am by gardaí a short distance from the house, parked in a farmyard at Killacluig.     

A massive search operation that had started overnight switched focus to the area around the van this morning – resulting in the discovery of the body of John in the Funcheon river near Drough, at approximately 1pm.

Sources said gardaí believe that Patrick and William were killed with the handle of an axe. It’s believed John died by drowning.

“Detectives believe that this was a murder-suicide scenario. One theory being explored is that the brothers had fallen out over the ownership of six acres of their 50 or so acre farm,” a source said.

“It is believed there was a recent argument over the sale of land and the dispute had worsened in the family over the sale or management of cattle.”

The massive garda operation involved large numbers of gardaí from across the area, including armed units from Cork city and detectives from the general North Cork region, based in Fermoy.

There was also a large number of uniformed gardaí as well as the dog unit and the Garda Water Unit.

Forensic examinations are continuing this evening at a number of locations. 

The farmhouse where the initial discovery was made is at the end of a narrow, winding laneway. There are a few houses near the scene.

The farm is surrounded by sodden farm land, with a gentle sloping hillside running down towards a small stream.

It is believed that several people, including relatives, contacted gardaí before the discovery last night and that concerns had been raised about the safety of all three men.

Neighbours refused to speak on the record about the discovery but one local man said that the farming brothers were well known with one of them working at a tyre business nearby.

It is believed that Willie was farming the land while the other two brothers had plots of land on the same holding. They were known to have played racketball in years passed but in recent times had only been seen at shops collecting groceries.

It is understood that Patrick was married and had children, one of whom died in 2012. 

“They were old fashioned and were farming quietly. People had heard there was a dispute there in recent times over land,” one local said. 

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“The only way to describe them was to say they were unremarkable, they kept to themselves. Decent people.”

Local Councillor Frank Roche, who had recently called for greater supports in rural areas for mental health problems, said the area is devastated at the news of the three deaths.

“We are absolutely devastated. I got a phone call at about half past seven this morning to tell me of another tragedy in the area.

“I was three miles out the road and I came over here to see if I could assist anybody and just to sympathise with all the people involved.

“Just talking to people here they are absolutely shocked, the locals can’t believe it,” he said.

Roche said that the murder-suicides of three family members in the Kanturk area was a warning.  

“What is upsetting me, since I was elected as a councillor and a bit before it, my phone is ringing on a daily basis about disputes on the farm and between families. I really think that our gardai need to be trained in this area, that our legal system needs to be updated because we going to have more of them.

“We are going to have more of these incidents, it is just tragedies after tragedies. It is frightening and so upsetting,” he said.   

Gardaí continued their operations at the scene as the bodies remained in situe. Post mortems are due to be carried out on the bodies by Dr Margaret Bolster, the Assistant State Pathologist, tomorrow.

Superintendent Liam Geraghty, addressing the media outside Mitchelstown Garda Station, said gardaí are now in contact with the bereaved family and that a family liaison officer has been appointed.

Superintendent Geraghty added that gardaí are seeking anyone who may have any information about interactions between the three men in the run up to this incident to get in touch with them.

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