Gardaí arrest two men for questioning about suspected murder of Corkman Kieran Quilligan

Mr Quilligan’s skeletal remains were found in east Cork earlier this week

Gardaí have arrested two men for questioning about the suspected murder of Kieran Quilligan whose skeletal remains were found in a gully in east Cork last week, five months after he disappeared in Cork City.

Detectives arrested the two men, a 31 year old man in the Mahon area of Cork’s southside and a 26 year old man at a location in the northside for questioning about the murder of Mr Quilligan (47), a native of Gurranebraher who disappeared on September 1st.

The two men were taken to the Bridewell and Gurranebraher Garda Stations where they are being detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act which allows gardaí to hold suspects for up to 24 hours before they must be charged or released.

Officers have also seized a car in Mahon which is being examined by garda technical experts to see if it contains any DNA evidence that would link it to Mr Quilligan’s abduction and murder while it will also be examined for DNA evidence to establish who had been using the vehicle.


Although gardaí had officially classified Mr Quilligan’s disappearance as a missing persons case until they received the results of a postmortem earlier this week, detectives had set up a special incident room and were treating the case as a murder inquiry from an early stage.

Mr Quilligan’s largely skeletal remains were found at the bottom of a scrub-covered gully some seven kilometres from Midleton, just off the R630 Midleton to Whitegate road, past Whitewell Cross and the turn off for Rostellan, by a sniffer dog and his handlers at around midday on Monday.

The two-man cadaver dog team had begun searching around two hours earlier and once the dog uncovered the remains, which it’s understood were not buried but concealed in a bag used to hold building waste, senior detectives called in garda technical officers to cordon off the area.

They also requested the services of the State Pathologist’s Office. Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster examined the body in situ before the remains, believed to be Mr Quilligan’s because of the remnants of a tattoo visible on some skin, were removed for a postmortem examination.

Gardaí didn’t release the results of Dr Bolster’s postmortem for operational reasons, but it’s understood they indicated that Mr Quilligan suffered severe injuries to the head and body including numerous bone fractures, consistent with a beating, possibly with a hammer or baseball bat.

Mr Quilligan, who was originally from Bakers Road in Gurranebraher in Cork City, was last seen alive on CCTV footage at St Finbarr’s Place, near St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, at 9.15pm on September 1st, after he left his accommodation at Cork Simon’s Emergency Shelter on Anderson’s Quay at 8.30pm.

Gardaí traced Mr Quilligan’s movements in the company of another man, from the Mahon area of Cork, across the city centre from Anderson’s Quay to Proby’s Quay, where he could be seen going up the steps at St Finbarr’s Place where gardaí believe he was assaulted by a group of men.

Gardaí believe that Mr Quilligan was severely injured in this beating. They believe he was bundled into the boot of a car seen on Fort Street around the time of the abduction. They tracked the car going to Little Island and later towards Rostellan.

Gardaí are still trying to establish if Mr Quilligan was already deceased when the gang arrived at Courtstown or whether he was the victim of another assault there which proved fatal but they are satisfied that the gang initially dumped his body in Courtstown.

However, gardaí believe the gang returned to Courtstown within a matter of days and removed Mr Quilligan’s badly beaten body, put it in a car and drove almost another 25 kms via the N25 to the place where they dumped his remains off the R630 Midleton to Whitegate road near Rostellan.

Gardaí initially carried out a search of two farms in Courtstown at the end of September, including draining slurry tanks which were searched by divers from the Garda Water Unit. They found no trace of him despite several days of intensive searching.

Gardaí remained tight-lipped about their investigation from the outset, but it’s understood that they believed from an early stage that Mr Quilligan’s abduction and death was related to an incident just hours or days before his disappearance where he and another man robbed a heroin dealer in Cork.

Gardaí took statement from up to 80 witnesses including several from heroin addicts in the city. They are satisfied from their inquiries that Mr Quilligan and the other man robbed the heroin dealer of a sum of cash after they met up with him in the MacCurtain Street area of the city.

Gardaí believe the heroin dealer reported the robbery to his bosses, identifying Mr Quilligan as the man responsible. Gardaí believe they then decided to administer a punishment beating to Mr Quilligan and send out a message that they would not tolerate their dealers being robbed.

Gardaí appointed a Family Liaison Officer to keep Mr Quiligan’s family appraised of any developments in the investigation, which has been co-ordinated by a team of detectives under Det Supt Mick Comyns and based at a specially established incident room at the Bridewell Gardai Station.

The Quilligan family were made aware on Monday afternoon of the discovery of human remains near Rostellan and they might turn out to be those of Mr Quilligan. They later visited the scene and laid flowers.

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Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times