Postmortems being carried out on three found dead in suspected Kerry murder-suicide

Bodies of Eileen O’Sullivan and son Jamie found at house, partner Mossie found at rear of property

Hearses carry the deceased from their home in Lixnaw, north Kerry. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

Hearses carry the deceased from their home in Lixnaw, north Kerry. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that Ireland cannot ignore the deaths of three family members in a suspected murder-suicide in Co Kerry.

Mr Martin indicated that he would be open to a conversation about changes to gun laws in Ireland.

“These are devastating events and the enormity of them is quite shocking,” he said on Thursday.

“I do think we need to evaluate,” Mr Martin said. “I don’t want to pre-empt what happened here. But we can’t ignore events of this kind.”

Garda forensic staff continued to examine the scene in north Kerry on Thursday where three people from the same family were found dead and with gunshot wounds on Tuesday night.

Postmortems on the bodies of Eileen O’Sullivan, also known as Eily, aged 56; her partner Maurice (Mossie) O’Sullivan, aged 63; and the couple’s son, Jamie, aged 24, were being finalised at University Hospital Kerry on Thursday.

Three bunches of flowers were placed at the roadside wall near the tiny bridge, off the main Lixnaw to Abbeydorney road, leading to a glimpse of the O’Sullivan family bungalow.

At the Dew Drop public house in Lixnaw there was talk of what a happy home the O’Sullivan’s had been.

“They were like a cow in a cock of hay,” is how one customer put it, explaining this was a north Kerry saying.

Another man who had been called to examine their tractor in recent months said there was plenty to eat at the house where a plate of bacon and cabbage would be put in front of you.

However locals said Eileen had what they believed was a stroke last year, although they said she was still able to manage. Local newspaper The Kerry’s Eye reported that Mossie may also have had health problems.

“No one will ever know what happened. Only God will know,” one man who did not wish to be named said.

Jamie (24) was described as a bright young man with a huge interest in machinery. He had completed an apprenticeship with crane manufacturer Liebherr. He had worked for the summer with local agricultural contractors but was called back to Liebherr in recent weeks as a fitter/welder.

Crotta O’Neill’s GAA club, where Jamie played hurling, paid tribute to Jamie. Coach Jerome O’Sullivan said he was “a gentleman to his fingertips”.

The family’s pet, a terrier cross, Henry, is being looked after in a rescue centre in nearby Lisselton.

Officers called at the home in Kerry on Tuesday evening and discovered the bodies of Eileen and Jamie inside the property. In a follow-up search outside the home, gardaí found the body of Mossie at the boundary of the rear yard, also with gunshot wounds. A firearm was recovered close to his body.

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill said more needs to be done to ensure appropriate help was made available in rural Ireland. .

“People have become very isolated, even more so because of Covid. It’s not just those living alone and the elderly who are and who feel isolated,” Mr Cahill said.

Gardaí investigating the shooting said they have “a lot of unanswered questions” about the incident. Superintendent Paul Kennedy said gardaí were not made aware of any issues with the family. He described them as a “decent family” who were not previously known to gardaí.

“We have no knowledge of anyone in the days preceding this that would have contacted us directly,” Mr Kennedy said.

Gardaí are trying to find a motive for a suspected murder-suicide. It is believed Mossie shot his partner and their son before taking his own life, but gardaí stress their investigation is still at a very early stage. –Additional reporting PA