Suspected murder-suicide shooting in Cork leaves father and two sons dead

Tadhg O’Sullivan (59) and his two sons Mark (26) and Diarmuid (23) found dead at the family farm

Three relatives have died in an apparent murder-suicide on a farm in Kanturk, north Co Cork. The shooting incident has left a father (late 50s) and his two sons (aged in their 20s) dead. Video: Provision

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Gardaí have said they are not looking for anyone else following what they believe was a murder-suicide incident which left three men dead at their family farm near Castlemagner outside Kanturk in north Cork yesterday.

The tragedy which left father Tadhg O’Sullivan (59) and his two sons Mark (26) and Diarmuid (23) dead at the family farm at Assolas between Castlemagner and Kanturk began unfolding at 6.30am when gardaí received an emergency call from Tadhg O’Sullivan’s wife, Anne O’Sullivan.

Gardaí are investigating reports that the tragedy may have been triggered by a dispute over a proposed will.

Some reports suggested that Diarmuid O’Sullivan felt aggrieved he might not inherit a share in the 150-acre farm, became angry and had threatened to self-harm.

Gardaí at the scene of the shootings at Assolas, near Kanturk in north Cork. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
Gardaí at the scene of the shootings at Assolas, near Kanturk in north Cork. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Ms O’Sullivan (60), a nurse at Mount Alverna in Mallow, had been in hospital in Dublin last week for surgery for a serious medical condition and was accompanied to Dublin by her older son, Mark. It is understood they stayed with neighbours for the past few days upon their return to Castlemagner.

However, they moved back to the family home on Sunday night and events took a tragic turn on Monday morning when it is believed Tadhg and Diarmuid burst into Mark’s bedroom sometime after 6.30am and one or both of them shot him.

Ms O’Sullivan managed to flee the house and raced to a neighbour’s home to raise the alarm, telling them that her husband and son had shot her other son. They contacted gardaí, who rushed to the scene.

Gardaí were informed by locals they had heard further gunshots at about 7.25am. They set up a cordon 70m back as they knew the family had three licensed firearms, two rifles and a shotgun, and were unsure whether or not they were facing a siege or possible hostage situation.

Gardaí declared the matter a critical firearms incident and a senior officer from Cork city division was appointed as on-scene commander as gardaí requested back-up. Armed members of the emergency response unit (ERU) from Cork were deployed and took up positions around the farmhouse.

Diarmuid O’Sullivan. Photograph: Provision
Diarmuid O’Sullivan. Photograph: Provision

Meanwhile, a trained negotiator attached to the Cork North division attempted to make contact with any persons in the house throughout the morning without success as gardaí maintained their position in the cordon in case anyone in the house was armed.

Armed support unit

However, shortly after 12.30pm, supported by armed members of the ERU from Cork, members of the armed support unit (ASU) who had travelled from Dublin on board an Air Corps helicopter entered the house and found Mark O’Sullivan’s body.

He was pronounced dead at the scene before some 20 members of the ASU and the ERU began a search of the outhouses attached to the farmhouse, while the Garda air support unit helicopter which had come from Dublin was also deployed to carry out a sweep of the farm.

At about 1.40pm the air support unit spotted two bodies lying near a fairy fort some four fields behind the house and when members of the ASU and ERU reached the scene they found the bodies of Tadhg and Diarmuid O’Sullivan beside two rifles and both were pronounced dead.