One of the young men at the centre of a apparent murder-suicide tragedy which claimed the lives of three members of the same family in North Cork on Monday was due to graduate with a degree in accountancy next week, it has emerged.
Diarmuid O'Sullivan (23) from Assolas near Kanturk had concluded his studies at Cork Institute of Technology 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 tragic deaths of Mr O'Sullivan and his brother, Mark and father, Tadhg unfolded.
“There are no words anyone can say to express how people are feeling. This tragedy is heart-breaking, 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 Tadgh.
“We are mindful at this time of his friends, classmates, 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.
Dr Collins said staff at CIT where Mr O’Sullivan undertook 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”.
The shock that Dr Collins spoke of at CIT was echoed in north Cork where 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 enormity of the tragedy.
“There’s a total sense of disbelief. The exact details of the case have to be confirmed but obviously it’s a very close knit community in Castlemagner so confirmation that three people had passed is very tragic and has been greeted with a real sense of grief and loss in the area.
“The news is getting out on different social media platforms so people from Castlemagner and Kanturk across the world are learning about it so people will find it very hard to come to terms with it but I have no doubt the people of Castlemagner will rally around and support the family.”
Gardaí say they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the three deaths but confirmed they hope the results of postmortems on Tuesday by Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster at Cork University Hospital will help clarify what happened.
The body of Mark O’Sullivan (26), a trainee solicitor was found with gunshot wounds in an upstairs room of the family farmhouse while the bodies of his brother, Diarmuid and father, Tadhg (59) were found beside two rifles in a field some distance from the house.
Gardaí described the incident as a terrible tragedy. Relatives were last night comforting Mr O’Sullivan’s widow, Anne (60) who had recently come out of hospital following surgery.
Gardaí say they are keeping an open mind on what triggered the tragedy but say they are inquiring whether the shootings may have been related to a dispute over a will which may have seen younger son, Diarmuid miss out on a share of the 150 acre family farm.
Reports suggested Diarmuid felt aggrieved at this.
The tragedy began on Monday morning when Tadhg and Diarmuid went into Mark’s bedroom in the house sometime after 6.30am and one or both of them shot him.
Ms O’Sullivan fled the house and went to neighbour to raise the alarm, telling them that her husband and son had shot her other son.
The neighbour contacted gardaí who raced to the scene.
Locals told gardaí they had heard further gunshots around 7.25am so officers set up a cordon as they knew that 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 and armed members of the Emergency Response Unit from Cork were deployed and took up positions around the farmhouse.
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.
Following the discovery of the three bodies Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster carried out a preliminary examination of the three bodies at the farm.
Gardaí also requested the services of the Garda Technical Bureau from Dublin and ballistic experts travelled to Kanturk to carry out examinations of the two rifles found beside Tadhg and Diarmuid O'Sullivan to see if one or both weapons were used to shoot Mark O'Sullivan.