Locals thought woman found dead in Cork house had returned to UK

The body of Joyce O’Mahony is believed to have been in the house on the city’s southside for up to 18 months

Locals in the quiet Cork housing estate where the body of a 58-year-old woman was found on Tuesday thought she had returned to the UK following the death of her mother in 2021.

The body of Joyce O’Mahony, which was discovered in a back room of the house in Brookfield Lawn near the lough on Cork’s southside on Tuesday, is believed to have been there for up to 18 months. She was the youngest of four children of Dr Tim and Patricia O’Mahony and is survived by a sister and two brothers.

One local, who did not wish to be named, said many people had assumed Ms O’Mahony had returned to the UK following the death of her mother, Patricia (91), in a nursing home in Ballincollig in January 2021.

“Joyce came back from the UK where she had been living around 2010 to care for her elderly mother after her father, Tim, died and she continued to care for her mother until she contracted Covid during the pandemic and went into hospital and later went into a nursing home.


“Joyce was always a very reclusive person – she would often sleep by day and only come out by night, but she was very rarely seen out and about and everyone just assumed she had gone back to the UK because we never saw her around the place,” said the local.

Ms O’Mahony had three siblings but it is understood she had little contact with them and had rebuffed efforts by them to help her. About three years ago one of her brothers sent men to help tidy up the front garden of the house, but she sent the workmen away.

“To be honest, the front garden of the house looked overgrown for years with this tree blocking out any daylight going into the front room and then it almost enveloped the car parked in the driveway so it’s hardly surprising people thought there was no one living there,” said the local.

Several others living in rented accommodation in the mature estate said they had never seen anyone enter or leave the house over the past two-three years and had consequently assumed the property was unoccupied and derelict.

It is understood the late Ms O’Mahony was very interested in horses when she was young and won several gymkhanas on her pony when a teenager. It is unclear when she left Cork for the UK or what she did there or how she supported herself upon her return to Cork.

Meanwhile, the Garda investigation into Ms O’Mahony’s death is continuing with a view to prepare a file for an inquest at Cork City Coroner’s Court with much of the attention focusing on trying to establish when exactly Ms O’Mahony died.

Gardaí began door-to-door inquiries in the estate and it is understood they have established she may have been alive in the autumn of 2022, though it is not clear whether that belief is based on a statement from a neighbour or from documents or items found in the house.

Garda sources confirmed that Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster was able to formally confirm Ms O’Mahony’s identity with reference to dental records at a postmortem at Cork University Hospital on Wednesday.

Dr Bolster established that foul play was not a factor in Ms O’Mahony’s death but it was not possible to determine from the postmortem when exactly she died.

Gardaí hope an examination of unopened post found in the hallway of the house, the expiry dates of food found and bank records may be of assistance in terms of dating her time of death.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times