Murder inquiry begins into death of Limerick pensioner

Family and neighbours express shock after death of Rose Hanrahan (78) at her home

Rose Hanrahan (78) who was found dead in her home in Limerick city on Friday.  Photograph: Liam Burke/Press22

Rose Hanrahan (78) who was found dead in her home in Limerick city on Friday. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press22

 

Gardaí have begun a murder inquiry into the death of a 78-year old widow in her Limerick home on Friday.

Rosie Hanrahan died a violent death but “for operational reasons” gardaí said they could not disclose the exact cause of death.

Ms Hanrahan’s body was discovered in a front room at her home at New Road, Thomodgate in Limerick city on Friday by her sister Evelyn, and her sister’s husband Jim, a family member said.

It is believed the pensioner was killed during a break-in at her home in which she resided for the past 40 years.

She had been a carer for her late husband Michael who died nearly five years ago.

Her sister Helen Carmody said she was “in a daze” since news broke of her sister’s murder.

“All I want is to see her,” Ms Carmody said, clutching a photograph of her sister. Ms Carmody said she had faith gardaí would find the killer or killers.

On Saturday gardaí were granted a further 48 hours to search the victim’s home for potential DNA evidence which they hoped would link those responsible to the murder scene.

CCTV footage from security cameras near Ms Hanrahan’s house is also being examined.

Ms Carmody said she and her late sister “always spent Christmas together in her house…because she’d cook dinner…I wouldn’t cook it right, she’d tell me.”

Ms Carmody said her sister was “very careful going to bed. She’d lock all the doors.”

“She’s going to be a big loss to all of us. I will miss her dreadfully. I can’t make sense of it really. She never did anything to anybody. She was very good to everybody, and then this.

Forensic gardaí outside the home of the late Rose Hanrahan in Limerick. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press22
Forensic gardaí outside the home of the late Rose Hanrahan in Limerick. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press22

“Everybody liked her. Rosie was very good living. She loved the gardening and she went to bingo.”

Postmortem

A postmortem carried out by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis confirmed Ms Hanrahan died a violent death.

Supt Derek Smart of Henry Street Garda station in Limerick city, last night upgraded the investigation from a suspicious death to a murder investigation.

“Rose was living on her own in a Thomondgate and very much a part of the community there. She was a very-much-loved and strong, independent woman,” he said.

“It is to (her) community, and the wider community, that I am appealing for information that you may have in regard to how Rose (died).”

Supt Smart said it was “hard to take” for people to know that such a well-loved elderly lady was murdered in her own home.

“It’s very, very hard to take that a 78-year old woman, living a full life, driving her own vehicle, and this is the end that she has come to,” he said.

“It’s very hard to fathom, and that’s why we would appeal to the community to come together with us.”

No alarms

There was no security alarm installed at the victim’s home as she had felt safe there, among her neighbours and friends, for nearly half a century, her sister said.

“She was very independent. She wasn’t a nervous person, as long as everything was locked up and she went to bed, then she was grand,” Ms Carmody said.

Fianna Fáil TD, Willie O’Dea, a family friend, who visited the scene Saturday, said: “It’s just appalling tragedy. There are no words to describe it really.”

Neighbours and friends wept and hugged one another outside Ms Hanrahan’s neat bungalow, as they tried to come to terms with the shock.

Patricia Hayes, whose home adjoins the house, said she was in deep shock: “It’s hard to believe Rosie is gone. It’s devastating. I hope she’s resting in heaven with her husband Mike.”

Another neighbour, Julie Butler, wept in her sitting room as she tried to come to terms with the news: “What can I say about Rose. She was just a lovely lady. She helped out everyone.”

Sup Smart called on anyone who saw anything suspicious around the Thomondgate area from Thursday evening until Friday afternoon, to “pick up the phone and ring us”.

“Any information - even if you don’t think it’s relevant - let us decide how relevant it is. Just pick up the phone and call us,” he said.

He reassured residents, who said they are now livening “in fear”, that gardaí are working around the clock to catch the killer or killers.

Supt Smart asked people to “check on your neighbours and make sure your neighbours are safe”.

“If anyone feels conscious or concerned about anything, just pick up the phone and contact us. Our community policing personnel are on the ground there. We are conducting house to house enquiries as we speak.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Mayorstone Garda station on 061-212400, or the Garda confidential line on 1800-666-111.