Homeless man who was stabbed to death spoke of overcoming addiction through God

Peter Donnelly said drugs had been his life and he had to go abroad to seek treatment

Peter “Rocky” Donnelly, the homeless man who was stabbed to death in O’Connell Street on Tuesday, spoke publicly in the past about his addictions.

Mr Donnelly (39) said he had been "destroyed on the streets" by his addictions and selling drugs in prison.

He said about himself that he was, “one of the most dysfunctional people in my whole city [Kilkenny]” but had got clean after undergoing a treatment programme.

“Drugs were my life, but now I go through the town and I feel sick when I see the darkness with my own eyes,” he said.


Detectives believe a friend of Mr Donnelly’s fatally wounded him with a long-bladed knife following an altercation on the street in the early hours of Tuesday.

In a video posted on Facebook, Mr Donnelly told fellow addicts that they needed to change inside to deal with their problems.

He gave a talk to the Remar Recovery Home Ireland in Thurles at an undisclosed date. Remar is a recovery home for addicts and homeless people based on Christian principles.

A spokesman for the home confirmed that the video had been filmed there, but would not comment further without the permission of Mr Donnelly’s family.

In the video Mr Donnelly recalled that he had to leave Ireland for a while and get away from “the dole, the post office and the doctors”.

He went to a Remar house in England for treatment. He said doctors could "give you things for the chemical balance in your head until you fall down again" but the impetus to change had to come from the heart.

“You need to come into this place (Remar) with a positive attitude and that you are going to remain here and do the programme and not be dry fruit and after three or four weeks hit rock bottom again,” he told those present.

“You need to keep going. There is only one person that can heal you and that’s God. You need to ask every day. When the power of God is inside you, no drug will bring you back. When you stop, you will stop for good. Never give up boys. God is there for you.”

Mr Donnelly said he had been on methadone, a substitute for heroin, for four years before he entered Remar.

“Six of the boys who did the detox with me here are dead and most of them died on Wednesdays or Thursdays which is dole day. I had to get away from that and do it abroad,” he said.

His good friend David Donoghue spoke of Mr Donnelly as his "brother" and said the now deceased man had had a powerful belief in God.

Mr Donoghue confirmed his friend had gone to England and then to Switzerland to seek help for his drink and drugs addiction, but recently he had been sleeping on couches in friends' houses because there was no bed for him in any homeless shelter in Kilkenny.

Mr Donoghue added: “He was fond of his drink, but he was a lovely man. There was no messing or fighting with him or anything like that. He just wanted things to go well in life and be pleased. He believed strongly in Jesus. He was a born-again Christian.

“It is sad the way his life turned out because he had a heart of gold. He would give you his last penny. His addictions was dragging him down, but he was getting support.”

Another friend Joe Quigley said Mr Donnelly had "no chance in life". Mr Quigley said he knew what it was like to have a drink problem and that Mr Donnelly was a "lovely chap" when he was sober.

Mr Quigley added: “He was failed by the HSE and by everybody. He fell between two stools because he had an addiction. When people come out of treatment and they relapse, in Kilkenny, there’s no structure to help you.

“Being addicted to alcohol makes you a second-class citizen in Ireland. That chap felt it and I felt it too.”

Meanwhile, gardaí last evening resumed their questioning of the main suspect for Mr Donnelly’s murder.

The suspect, a homeless man in his 20s who is known to gardaí, was arrested on Marlborough Street close to the crime scene about 15 minutes after the fatal stabbing.

That man had sustained hand injuries and after his arrest by gardaí from Store St station he was taken to hospital for treatment and his questioning was suspended. However, he had been returned to Store Street station last night and his questioning was resumed.

Gardaí believe he was a friend of the dead man’s but became involved in a verbal altercation with him that escalated. A knife was produced and Mr Donnelly was fatally stabbed.

Gardaí have recovered the large knife they believe was used in the killing and have also gathered CCTV footage of the attack.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times