Deaths of father and sons may have been over disputed inheritance

Gardaí say they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths

Three relatives have died in an apparent murder-suicide on a farm in north Co Cork.

Gardaí were alerted to the shooting incident at Assolas near Kanturk at about 6.30am on Monday which left a father, Tadhg O’Sullivan (59) and his two sons, Mark (26) and Diarmaid (23) dead at the family farm. An emergency call was received from neighbours who said a woman had told them that firearms had been discharged in her home.

“Gardaí were informed that three males were present in the house, and that one male may have suffered gunshot wounds,” said a Garda spokesman.

It is understood that the shootings are related to a dispute over a will and the future inheritance of a 150-acre farm that had been simmering recently. Gardaí say they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths.


Detectives believe that one of the sons and his mother returned to the family home after some time away on Sunday night and that this man was later shot in his bedroom. The woman managed to flee the house and went to a neighbour to raise the alarm.

Shots heard

As gardaí approached the isolated farmhouse they were informed that further shots had been heard. They immediately set up a cordon around the property and requested back up.

Armed Emergency Response Unit members from Cork were deployed and ambulance personnel were sent to the scene. A garda negotiator was put on standby.

Gardaí knew the family had three licensed firearms at the house – two rifles and one double barrel shotgun – so they did not try to enter the property.

A Garda spokesman said that negotiators unsuccessfully attempted to make contact with any persons in the house throughout the morning.

Shortly after 12.30pm, Armed Support Unit members from Dublin entered the property and found one of the younger men dead in the house. He had sustained a gun shot wound and was alone in the house.

Outhouses beside the farmhouse where searched and the Garda Air Support Unit was deployed as well as the North Cork Divisional Search Team, who began searching fields around the farm.

The Air Support Unit spotted two bodies at about 1.45pm in fields near the property and found the bodies of the father and other son, who appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds, and two firearms.

‘Terrible tragedy’

A Garda source described the incident as “a terrible tragedy” and said the force was not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. The investigation is at an early stage with forensic examination of a number of scenes yet to be carried out.

The Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster arrived at the scene at around 5.30pm and carried out preliminary examinations on the deceased men, whose bodies will undergo postmortems later. The services of Garda technical and ballistics experts have also been requested.

A Garda Family Liaison Officer has been appointed to assist the woman, who was being comforted by friends and neighbours on Monday afternoon.

Supt Adrian Gamble of Cork North Division later appealed at a press conference in Kanturk to any person who may have any information which may assist in the investigation to contact Mallow station on (022) 31450.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee extended her sympathies to “all those impacted upon by this tragic and disturbing incident”.

Local Fine Gael Cllr John Paul O’Shea said that as news began to emerge about the incident on Monday, people in the area were stunned to learn that a terrible thing could happen on their doorstep.

“There’s a total sense of disbelief,” he said. “The exact details of the case have to be confirmed but . . . confirmation that three people had passed . . . has been greeted with a real sense of grief and loss in the area.”

He said locals would find it “very hard to come to terms” with what had happened but that he had no doubt” the community will rally around the family”.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times