Dara Quigley’s mother recalls ‘beautiful first-born’ at inquest

Journalist’s mental health had deteriorated prior to her death by drowning in 2017

In the year before journalist Dara Quigley (36) died she had been "trying extremely hard to recover from substance abuse", her mother told her inquest on Tuesday.

Aileen Malone told Tipperary coroner's court her "beautiful first-born", who died by drowning on April 12th, 2017, had deteriorated mentally as her admission for treatment was delayed.

An open verdict was returned by coroner Joe Kelly, who had heard evidence that four days prior to her death footage of Ms Quigley walking naked and in a distressed state in Dublin had been captured by Garda CCTV.

The images were subsequently shared by a member of An Garda Síochána and uploaded to social media.


Ms Malone told the court: “In the year before Dara died she was trying extremely hard to recover from substance abuse. Sadly the delay in admitting her to the centre that had agreed to treat her sent her spiralling downwards again, unable to deal with the frustration of wanting to recover but not having the support and treatment she needed.”

The court heard Ms Quigley had been staying with a friend, Roman Kantor, in Dublin when she was arrested around Harcourt Street on April 7th, 2017. He brought clothes to her in Pearse Street Garda station, and was told she was being brought to see a doctor.

She was released that afternoon and "she seemed okay in herself", he said. He was glad she was going to Tipperary on April 10th to stay with a friend, Clare Madigan, as she "would be good company for her".


Ms Madigan’s son, Oisín, became aware of the footage of Ms Quigley when a friend asked him about it, on April 9th. His mother told him it was not Ms Quigley, though she subsequently told him it was. His mother told him, after Ms Quigley’s death, that she had been aware of it circulating on social media.

Ms Quigley had been staying “on and off” with his mother since 2016 and “seemed to be enjoying life in Tipperary where the pace of life is slower”, the inquest heard.

Though she had seemed “quiet” on April 10th, she seemed “okay, pottering about” on the 11th. That evening, however, when she joined him and his mother to watch television, she seemed distressed.

“She was in a half-awake, half-asleep state... She kept repeating herself over and over again, saying she was sorry. She was worried things were her fault.”

He was aware she had left to go for a walk between 6am and 7am the following day. When she had not returned by 6pm he and his mother were worried and got no responses from Ms Quigley to their texts. Her body was later found in Lough Derg, the court heard.

Toxicology tests, conducted as part of the postmortem, found no substances in Ms Quigley’s system.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Malone said she was relieved the inquest was over, adding she had been tempted not to participate.


“Having already endured Dara’s death, the circumstances of her death and then the investigations and the whole disciplinary process and the refusal of the DPP to prosecute... all of that was further insult and further structural violence by the State.”

However, she said individuals, including senior gardaí, had “done their best within the limits of the system”.

Asked if there has been accountability for Dara, she said: “Not really, no.”

Welcoming the resignation of the garda who had shared images of her daughter, she said it was “a kind of acceptance that he didn’t belong in the force and accepted some responsibility for it”.

Describing her daughter as her “beautiful first-born,” she said: “I hope that Dara has now found peace... She had courage and beauty, passion and intelligence. She was as critical of herself as she was of others, and described her struggles with honesty and humour.”

Ms Malone added: “We lived different lives but agreed on many things. Dara was inspirational but frustrating, imaginative but stubborn. My life is more peaceful but much emptier and much poorer without her. Fly high, starling.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times