Priest gave no indication of suicide plan, inquest hears

Fr Doyle found hanging in Raheny home by parishioner, Dublin Coroner’s Court hears

A Catholic priest who was found hanging had given no indication he intended to take his own life, an inquest has heard. Fr Declan Doyle (61) was found dead at his parochial house on Foxfield St John, Raheny, Dublin, on February 12th last year.

He was a priest in Kilbarrack and had previously spent 12 years as chaplain at Dublin Airport.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard he was found by parishioner Marlene Moran, who held a key to the house, and another priest in the parish, Fr Cathal Price. Ms Moran said she last saw Fr Doyle after he had said Mass the night before. She spoke to him for a few minutes in the sacristy and he gave her a hug, she told the court. She had no concerns that evening, she said.

The following day Fr Price called Ms Moran and asked if she had keys to the house having become concerned for Fr Doyle. “He had an appointment on that day and he did not appear. They rang and that is how the concern started,” she said.


The door to the house was locked but the alarm was not set. They went inside and found Fr Doyle hanging. Fr Price called the emergency services and the archbishop, she said.

Sergeant Basil Grimes told the inquest that when he arrived at the scene he was shown to the kitchen where he found documents on the table addressed to Fr Doyle's family and Fr Price.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell described these as "farewell notes". A brown box addressed to another man had also been left in Fr Doyle's bedroom. Sgt Grimes said he was satisfied the items found were from the dead man.

Fr Doyle was pronounced dead at the scene by the Garda doctor who indicated death appeared to have been approximately 12 hours earlier.

Sgt Grimes said the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, attended the scene at 7pm.

"I spoke privately with Archbishop Martin who outlined concerns to me of Fr Doyle not related to his death. Archbishop Martin said a prayer with the deceased and left the house," he said.

The post-mortem was carried out the following day by pathologist Dr Muna Sabah who gave the cause of death as hanging. There were therapeutic levels of anti-depressant, sedative and painkiller medications in Fr Doyle’s body at the time of death.

Dr Farrell said a medical report from Fr Doyle’s GP indicated he had never expressed any suicidal ideation or intent to harm himself. The letters found would “indicate a particular frame of mind”, he said, and there is no third party involvement in the death.

He returned a verdict of death by suicide.