Body of woman found in Cork house may have been there for 18 months

Joyce O’Mahony (58) was last seen sometime in 2021 but gardaí believe she may have been alive for another year

Gardaí are to prepare a file for the Coroners Court following the discovery of the body of a woman who may have been deceased for 18 months in her home in a Cork City suburb.

The woman, named locally as Joyce O’Mahony (58)*, lived alone at the semidetached two storey house on the quiet Brookfield Lawn estate near the Lough on Cork’s southside.

Ms O’Mahony’s body was discovered by a man working for a pest control firm who was called to deal with vermin at a nearby house and he traced the source to Ms O’Mahony’s home.

He spotted Ms O’Mahony’s body in a downstairs back room and immediately contacted the emergency services. Gardaí, paramedics and Cork City Fire Brigade attended at the scene.


Ms O’Mahony was pronounced dead by a local GP and gardaí were satisfied from their examination that there was no sign of injury or forced entry to the house to suggest foul play.

Ms O’Mahony’s body was removed to the morgue at Cork University Hospital where Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, is due to carry out a postmortem on Wednesday morning.

Gardaí say expect it will require dental records to formally confirm Ms O’Mahony’s identity as her remains had suffered significant deterioration when they were found.

Door-to-door inquiries in the estate revealed she was last seen out and about sometime in 2021 but they believe she may have been alive for another year after that.

They have established that she was alive in mid-November 2022 from items found in the house which, if it proves to be correct, would suggest that has been deceased for almost 19 months.

Gardaí hope to examine Ms O’Mahony’s bank and phone records to see if they can find any activity that would indicate Ms O’Mahony was alive after November 2022.

They also plan to examine a large amount of unopened letters and correspondence found in the hallway of the house to try toestablish when Ms O’Mahony stopped opening her post.

They are also planning to carry out a thorough examination of the kitchen area to see what dates are on the food that might give some indication of when she died.

Gardaí will include the results of these examinations along with Dr Bolster’s findings at postmortem for a file on Ms O’Mahony’s death for Cork City Coroner, Philip Comyn.

Ms O’Mahony was predeceased by her mother, Patricia, who died in a nursing home in 2021 at the age of 91 and by her father Dr Timothy O’Mahony who died in 2010 at the age of 84.

Dr O’Mahony was well known in the local community after building up an extensive GP practice which he ran from a surgery at the side of the family home on Brookfield Lawn.

Ms O’Mahony is survived by her sister and two brothers but it is believed that she had not been in contact with them in recent years after becoming quite reclusive and rarely venturing out.

Locals described Ms O’Mahony as very private, only emerging at night to go to the local shop for groceries with many on the estate saying they thought the house was derelict.

“We’re here over a year and we were told the house was derelict and it certainly looked that way with that tree growing all over the garden and covering the car with its flat tyres,” said one.

One woman walking her dog told The Irish Times: “I walk my dog here every day and to think I’ve been passing that house with that poor woman in there – it’s desperately sad.”

Local Independent Cllr Mick Finn said it was surprising Ms O’Mahony was dead and undiscovered in the house for so long given her front garden was so obviously overgrown.

“I don’t know the individual circumstances of this case but even allowing for complex personal circumstances I find it hard to comprehend that somebody can go unmissed for a year or more.

“I know anecdotally the woman is supposed to have kept very much to herself, but it underlines for me the importance of people checking on their elderly or vulnerable neighbours.”

*This article was ammended on May 22nd to correct Ms O’Mahony’s age

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times