Cork shootings: ‘Devastation was impossible to imagine’, funeral hears

Tadg O’Sullivan (59) and son Diarmuid (23) laid to rest separately from eldest son Mark (26)


The tragedy which claimed the lives of three members of the same family in North Cork earlier this week has plunged a community into darkness and left people struggling to make sense of it all, mourners at a funeral mass for two of the deceased heard on Friday.

Canon Toby Bluitt told the 200 or so mourners attending the joint funeral of Tadg O’Sullivan (59) and his son, Diarmuid (23) in St Mary’s Church in Castlemagner that it was hard to put into words the sense of incomprehension that their deaths had prompted in their local community.

Mr O’Sullivan and Diarmuid died in what is believed to be a suicide pact on Monday, taking their own lives after earlier shooting Mr O’Sullivan’s older son, Mark (26) in a dispute over the inheritance of the 115 acre family farm owned by their mother, Ann.

A view of the farmhouse in Assolas, Kanturk, north Co Cork, where the bodies of Tadgh O’Sullivan, and his two sons, Diarmuid and Mark, were found on Monday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A view of the farmhouse in Assolas, Kanturk, north Co Cork, where the bodies of Tadgh O’Sullivan, and his two sons, Diarmuid and Mark, were found on Monday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

On Friday Ms O’Sullivan, supported by close friends and relatives, heard Canon Bluitt tell mourners that a great darkness had enveloped not just the O’Sullivan family but also the local community in Castlemagner who were struggling to cope with a grief that was “overwhelming”.

“The normally tranquil local area blanketed at this time of year with a myriad of colourful Autumn leaves…… became a hive of activity and the Autumn light was….. for a time ……a very distant memory,” said Canon Bluitt.

“The shock, the numbness, the devastation, was impossible to imagine and the unfolding news of the loss of three lives was incomprehensible …. Just like all of you, I too am struggling to make sense of this life changing tragedy.”

Canon Bluitt was joined at the mass by Fr John Magner who performed the last rites on the three deceased at their family farm at Raheen between Kanturk and Castlemagner and also ministered to their heartbroken wife and mother, Ann as she was comforted by neighbours.

Just 25 mourners joined Ms O’Sullivan in the church because of Covid-19 regulations but around 30 gathered right outside the 19th century limestone church and over 150 across the road to hear Canon Bluitt extend his sympathies and those of Bishop William Crean of Cloyne to Ms O’Sullivan.

He recalled that the late Mr O’Sullivan worked in the motor trade in nearby Buttevant for over 40 years and from his own encounters with him, he found him to be “very accommodating, friendly and happy in his chosen field.”

He said that Diarmuid had gone to school in nearby Ballyhass and later Kanturk and, like Mark, had socialised in Castlemagner before going to study Accountancy at Cork Institute of Technology where he finished his studies in June and was due to be conferred online next week.

“One would imagine that life was full of possibilities for him - one could also say that both Tadg and Diarmuid touched many people’s lives along the way as they journeyed through life. Their lives and deaths have changed you all and you will never be the same again.”

“So today… gathered together in our grief, we do not minimise the loss of their lives by trying to provide easy answers, because there are no answers…… But there are some things that we do know in the midst of our grief.

“We know that this was not God’s will ...that the Lord’s Prayer teaches us “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” - God’s will is not always done on earth as the tragedy of this week reminds us. We know that this was not a “wake up call”...nor did it happen so that we can learn something.”

Many mourners emerged from their cars in the car park when the two coffins were taken from the church followed by Ms O’Sullivan who was supported by friends as she watched the two hearses bring her husband and son to their final resting place in nearby St Brigid’s Cemetery.

Mark O’Sullivan, a law graduate of the University of Limerick who later did a post grad course at University College Cork, will be buried following a funeral mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Kanturk on Saturday with burial taking place afterwards at a local cemetery.