Gardaí believe man (70s) seriously assaulted prior to death in Lisdoonvarna

Suspect, aged in his 30s, arrested in connection with discovery of body on Friday morning

The hearse carrying the remains of an elderly man leaving the laneway where his body was found in Lisdoonvarna. Photograph: Press 22

The hearse carrying the remains of an elderly man leaving the laneway where his body was found in Lisdoonvarna. Photograph: Press 22

 

Gardaí believe a pensioner found dead in his Co Clare home was badly beaten before he died.

A suspect has been arrested in connection with the man’s death in Lisdoonvarna.

While a full post mortem examination must take place before the precise cause and time of death is established, gardaí believe the dead man was subjected to a serious assault at or around the time of his death.

The dead man who has been named locally as John O’Neill, was well known in the town having run a B&B with his wife Christine who died from cancer last year. He was in his 70s.

His body was discovered on Friday morning at his home on St Brendan’s Road off the square in Lisdoonvarna.

The suspect is in his 30s and was arrested on Friday under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act. He was being detained at Ennis Garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows for his detention for up to 24 hours without charge.

The man being questioned about the case was known to Mr O’Neill. The Irish Times understands the house where Mr O’Neill’s remains were found was in his family for three generations.

The deceased man and his wife had two adult sons and five grandchildren, all are said to have been deeply shocked by the news and were being comforted by people in the local community and members of the wider family, according to Garda sources.

As well as running a B&B, and later AirB&B, business, Mr O’Neill and his wife founded the Burren Painting Centre. Mrs O’Neill, who died last July, was heavily involved in Clare Tourism Council and was the first woman to be elected chairperson of the council in 1977.

“The scene is currently preserved and a technical examination is being carried out by the Garda Technical Bureau. State Pathologist Margaret Bolster has attended the scene,” a Garda statement said.

Dr Bolster carried out a preliminary examination on the dead man’s remains at the scene before they were removed to University Hospital Limerick for a full postmortem. Depending on the outcome, the case may be upgraded to a homicide inquiry.

Lisdoonvarna parish priest Fr Robert McNamara said the community had been left shocked by Mr O’Neill’s death.

Heather Crowe, owner of the Ritz Hotel in Lisdoonvarna who had been Mr O’Neill’s neighbour for about 30 years, said the town had been left in shock by his death.

“[He was] a great man, a great neighbour; he was just a hard working man,” she said. “Everybody was horrified because it was something that you never dream would happen in this little town. People can’t believe that this could happen to this man.”

Gardaí are appealing to anyone with information on the crime, or who may have seen anything suspicious around the victim’s home to contact Ennistymon station on (065) 707 2180 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.