Cork shootings: Postmortems on two of three family members complete

Technical exam of house and land ongoing after suspected murder-suicide of father and two sons

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


The postmortems on two of the three members of the same family who died following what gardaí believe was a murder-suicide in Cork on Monday have been completed. The third postmortem is scheduled to take place on Wednesday morning.

It is hoped the postmortems will help establish what exactly happened to the O’Sullivan family at their farm near Castlemagner outside Kanturk in north Cork on Monday. All three had suffered gunshot wounds.

Gardaí described the incident, in which Tadhg O’Sullivan (59) and two sons Mark (26) and Diarmuid (23) died, as a terrible tragedy. Relatives are comforting Mr O’Sullivan’s widow, Anne (60), who had left hospital recently following surgery.

The bodies of the three men were taken to Cork University Hospital on Monday evening after Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster attended the scene.

She completed her postmortem examinations on the bodies of Tadhg O’Sullivan and his son, Diarmuid on Tuesday. Each were found with single gunshot wounds to the head in a field on their farm.

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

Dr Bolster is expected to carry out a postmortem on Wednesday on the body of Mark O’Sullivan whom gardaí believe was shot in his bed at around 6.40am on Mondayin the family home, prior to the other deaths on the farm.

Gardaí are keeping an open mind on what led to the deaths but say they are inquiring whether the shootings may have been related to a dispute over a will that would have meant Diarmuid miss out on a share of the family farm.

Gardaí said that contrary to some reports there had been no Garda interaction with the deceased men, or their family, prior to the incident.

A technical examination of the house and the adjoining land is ongoing.

Tadhg O’Sullivan was originally from Roskeen, between Mallow and Kanturk, and had married into the farm but neither farmed nor worked the 150-acre tillage holding. He was employed as a mechanic at Greenhall Motors in Buttevant about 15km away.

Ms O’Sullivan, 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 relatives for the past few days after returning to Castlemagner.

Farm buildings at he scene of a fatal shooting at Assolas, near Kanturk, North Cork. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Farm buildings at he scene of a fatal shooting at Assolas, near Kanturk, North Cork. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

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

‘Critical firearms incident’

Gardaí were alerted to a “critical firearms incident” at about 6.30am on Monday after Ms O’Sullivan raised the alarm that firearms may have been discharged at her home.

They were informed that three men were in the house and that one may have suffered from gunshot wounds.

The Garda initiated their critical firearms incident response, and negotiators attempted to make contact with anyone in the property during the morning.

Officers from the emergency response unit, armed support unit, national negotiator unit, technical support unit (Garda Headquarters), southern region dog unit and air support unit were involved.

Shortly after 1pm gardaí approached the house and found Mark’s body in a bedroom.

The bodies of Tadhg and Diarmuid O’Sullivan were later found on adjoining land after an aerial search. Several weapons were found at the scene.

Gardaí indicated on Monday that they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident.

Family ‘very well liked’

The incident has left the north Cork community shocked and saddened. Diarmuid had concluded his studies at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) in June and was due to be conferred with a first-class honours degree in accounting next week, the institute confirmed.

Dr Dan Collins, head of student affairs at CIT, said the CIT community was in shock as news of the deaths unfolded.

Dr Collins said staff at CIT where Diarmuid O’Sullivan did the four-year course, described him as “a young man with promise, who was a hard worker, respected, and held in high regard by staff and students alike”.

“This tragedy is heartbreaking. And we extend our thoughts and sympathy to his mother, Anne. We also keep in our thoughts, and prayers, his brother Mark and his father Tadhg.

“We are mindful at this time of his friends, class-mates, and staff of the Department of Accounting and Information Systems, as well as the extended family and neighbours,” said Dr Collins in a statement issued by CIT.

Paul Gallagher – assistant public relations officer of Castlemagner GAA club, where the brothers used to play at a young age – extended his sympathies to Ms O’Sullivan and her extended family on behalf of the club.

Mr Gallagher said it was a “close-knit” community and the family were “very well liked”.

“Normally we’re used to hearing these stories, or watch them on the TV rather than seeing them outside your window,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

He said the community would rally around Ms O’Sullivan to try to help her through this time, but he said Covid-19 restrictions were making it more difficult.

‘A very sad scene’

Kanturk curate Fr John Magner attended the scene where he blessed the bodies and later offered comfort to Ms O’Sullivan at the home of relatives.

“I spent some time talking to her, offering comfort. I prayed over her, to have the strength to cope with his enormous loss,” Fr Magner told RTÉ radio’s News at One.

It had been difficult for him to find the words to say to her, he said. “I didn’t know what to say . . . It was a very sad scene.” It had been difficult to communicate through masks, he said.

He said it would be difficult for younger people to understand that someone their age had departed this world so early.

Local Fine Gael Cllr John Paul O’Shea from Lombardstown said people in Castlemagner and nearby Kanturk were trying to come to terms with the deaths.

“There’s a total sense of disbelief. The exact details of the case have to be confirmed, but obviously it . . . has been greeted with a real sense of grief and loss in the area.”

Fianna Fáil Cllr Pat Hayes said it was a tragedy for the family.

“It has come as a real shock to the community,” he said.

“We’re a very close knit community here and to be honest with you, every one is just numb.”–Additional reporting PA

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