Pensioner dead three months when body found in Mayo home

Reclusive and religious woman moved to Knock to be near the shrine, inquest hears

Irene Daly’s daughter said the last time she had spoken to her mother they had ‘a fight’ over her living in Mayo. Photograph: Getty

Irene Daly’s daughter said the last time she had spoken to her mother they had ‘a fight’ over her living in Mayo. Photograph: Getty

 

An 82-year-old reclusive and deeply religious woman had been dead for almost three months when her body was discovered in her house at Knock, Co Mayo, an inquest was told on Monday.

A neighbour raised the alarm to gardaí about Irene Daly after noticing that the curtains were drawn in her home at Glencarra, Knock, and bluebottles were visible in the windows.

Mrs Daly was a widow and pensioner. Her body was discovered by an investigating garda between a bedroom and bathroom on the landing at the top of the stairs. The remains were so decomposed that DNA tests were needed to prove conclusively her identity.

Garda Jason Lardner told the inquest in Castlebar that the woman had written a message on three A4 pages posted on her front door which read, “I don’t need anything. I am very well. I have everything”.The officer said that he also noticed that letters had built up in a postbox attached to the side of the house.

Hilda Good, a daughter of the deceased, who lives in Rochestown, Co Cork, said on April 23rd last she had been informed on the phone by a garda from Claremorris that her mother had been found dead at home after gardaí had broken down the back door.

Responding to coroner for Mayo Patrick O’Connor, Ms Good said the last time she had spoken to her mother was at Christmas and they had “a fight” over her living in Mayo.

“She [Irene] had moved up to Knock to be next to Holy God and the Shrine,” said Ms Good.

Diarmuid Good, a son of the previous witness, gave evidence of seeing his grandmother in early January.

“We went for dinner in the local hotel and she was in grand form,” he said. “She was talking about coming down to Cork in March 2019 for my birthday. Before I left, she gave me a bag of goods including a massive Santa Claus.”

Monica Kirrane, Carrowmore, Knock, said that around Easter there was general talk locally that Irene, who was a very private person, had not been seen for a while.

Last sighting

“The alarm bells rang for me when I went to her house and saw the note inside the patio door and the curtains were all pulled,” said Ms Kirrane.

The last sighting of Mrs Daly was on January 26th when she was spotted by a former neighbour on a bus to Westport, via Castlebar.

Medical evidence was given to the hearing that the cause of death was due to lobar pneumonia.

Consultant pathologist Fadel Bennani said cause of death was natural, but difficult to diagnose due to severe decomposition.

After returning a verdict of death from natural causes, the coroner described the case as “very sad and difficult” from the point of view of relatives, neighbours and investigating gardaí.

The coroner emphasised the importance of neighbours checking on those living alone in the community, particularly in wintertime and around Christmas. Daily checks were not necessary, suggested Mr O’Connor, every few days would suffice.