Stabbing in Sligo being treated as murder

Community left ‘absolutely numb’ from death of much respected musician (59)

Gardaí have upgraded the investigation into Matt Kivlehan’s death to a murder inquiry after confirming the 59-year-old was stabbed to death. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Gardaí have upgraded the investigation into Matt Kivlehan’s death to a murder inquiry after confirming the 59-year-old was stabbed to death. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Neighbours and community leaders in Sligo have led an outpouring of sympathy following the murder of musician Matt Kivlehan, who was described as a “placid” man who would never hurt anyone.

Gardaí have upgraded the investigation to a murder inquiry after confirming the 59-year-old was stabbed to death. Mr Kivlehan died after being stabbed in his apartment on Holborn Street, Sligo. A knife was retrieved at the scene. Mr Kivlehan’s family home was five doors away.

Neighbour and friend Noelle Coyle said he regularly stood at his door chatting to local people. She said Mr Kivlehan broke his leg some years ago and had never recovered fully.

“His door on Holborn Street, in one of Sligo’s oldest communities, was always open to anyone who needed anything,” she said. “He was very good-natured and they took advantage of that. He knew all the kids in the locality by name and they all knew him.”

Local people left flowers at Mr Kivlehan’s door yesterday, including one floral tribute with a banjo attached, to reflect his love of music.

Close-knit community

The cathaoirleach of Sligo county council, Rosaleen O’Grady, said the people of the town were shocked. “People are absolutely numb,” she said.

“This man was a much- respected member of a very close-knit community. His family are very well known and respected. ”

Ms O’Grady said such violent events had become too frequent. “Years ago something like this would be unheard of, but sadly there seems to be a quiet acceptance now that things like this happen”.

She said that anyone who knew Mr Kivlehan had only good things to say about him. Local parish priest Fr Noel Rooney said the killing was “beyond tragic”.

Funeral arrangements

As the family wait for the release of the body before making funeral arrangements, Fr Rooney, parish priest of St Joseph’s church in Ballytivnan, said local people would support them and try to give them hope.

“He was the most harmless of men – very placid,” said Fr Rooney.“But people will rally around the family now. That is what happens – Irish people are good at that.”

Fr Rooney said it was bad enough when people died in accidents “but something like this is absolutely shocking”.

Gardaí have appealed for information from anyone who was in the vicinity of Holborn Street from 10pm on Sunday night to 1pm on Monday.

A man and a woman in their 20s, who are local, and who were arrested on Monday night, are still being questioned under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.

Mr Kivlehan, who was well known as a musician, had been a skilled carpenter and cabinetmaker.

Neighbours said he “never raised his voice to anyone” and was devoted to his music. He regularly dropped into the Mace shop next door to his apartment where staff remembered him as a “gentleman”. who often called in for a chat.

Gardaí are asking anyone with information to contact Sligo Garda station on 071-915 7000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800-666111 or any Garda station.