Man in armed standoff is chief suspect in killing
Victim had confided to family members and others that she was living in fear
The body of the woman discovered in a house in Bailiboro, Co Cavan, is removed from the scene. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
A man arrested in Bailieborough, Co Cavan, in the early hours of yesterday after being involved in an armed standoff with gardaí at a local pub is the chief suspect in the killing of Patricia Kierans, the 54-year-old mother of four shot dead in her Cavan home on Thursday night.
The dead woman had confided in family members and other people she knew that she was being subjected to abuse in a relationship.
Local priest Fr Oliver O’Reilly yesterday said he had tried to help Ms Kierans.
“She had confided in me quite a bit over the last year and she had expressed fear that her life was in danger,” he said.
“I had got her professional help.I feel personally devastated as well as the larger community with what has happened.”
Of the dead woman’s four adult children three – Oliver, Ger and Julie – have been living in Australia of late, while the fourth sibling Shane had left on Wednesday to join them. He was travelling when news of his mother’s death emerged on Thursday evening.
The man arrested in the early hours of yesterday morning when the siege at Nixy’s The Square Bar on Market Square ended is a 56-year-old originally from Bailieborough.
After being arrested in the early hours of yesterday, he was admitted to Cavan General Hospital for treatment and observation and was under armed guard there last night.
The town of Bailieborough was effectively locked down from early on Thursday night until almost 4am yesterday as gardaí dealt with what was for a time a very volatile situation.
The protracted and tragic chain of events began at around tea-time on Thursday when a sister of the dead woman went to Bailieborough Garda station and expressed concern for Ms Kierans’s safety after proving unable to contact her by phone or by calling to her home.
Gardai immediately decided to speak to a man known to Ms Kierans and went to Nixy’s The Square at about 7pm.
“When they entered the pub . . . a 56-year-old male emerged from the basement and brandished a firearm threatening the gardaí,” said Supt Dave Taylor.
Gardaí then withdrew and evacuated the pub, where a number of patrons and staff were present.
A short time later, gardaí went to the woman’s house in the Drumbannon estate and forced their way in.
“On entering the house, gardaí discovered the body of a 54-year old female with an obvious gunshot wound,” said Supt Taylor.
The Irish Times understands she had been shot once with a shotgun in an upstairs bedroom.
As the property was sealed off, the State Pathologist’s Office notified and a murder investigation began, the stand-off continued with the armed man holed up in the pub at Market Square.
He came to the door of the pub a number of times into the early hours. He shouted at the gardaí in the deserted streets. “I wouldn’t touch her in 200 years . . . I wouldn’t do that,” he was heard to shout.
At around 3.30am he gave himself up by walking out of the back door of the pub. He was arrested on suspicion of murder and taken to the local Garda station just yards away. He remained there before being hospitalised yesterday evening.
Neighbours of Ms Kierans said she had been concerned for her safety for some time.
She moved out of her home about a month ago to live with her sister in Cavan, according to a friend.
While originally from Belfast, Ms Kierans had been living in Bailieborough for over 30 years and reared her three sons and a daughter there.
“She was a lovely person; she had some health problems but was normally in great form, always happy to talk,” said another neighbour who did not wish to be named.
The man arrested by gardaí over the incident grew up in the town and has family still living there.
Many people described him as friendly and were shocked to hear of his arrest.
“It’s a double-tragedy in a way,” said Mathew Farley, a neighbour of Ms Kierans who knew both her and the accused. “It’s so sad. She was a very nice woman and would always say ‘hello’.
“The one thing about here is you don’t lock the doors. It’s a lovely, quiet spot. So it was a real shock for something like this to happen. Everyone feels very sorry for her children especially.”