A murder-suicide incident in which an entire family was “wiped out” almost two years ago continues to have a “colossal” impact on relatives and neighbours of the three deceased and the wider community in Lixnaw, Co Kerry, an inquest has heard.
Kerry Coroner’s Court heard the bodies of Eileen O’Sullivan (56) and her son Jamie (24) were found in their bedrooms at the family’s home on September 7th, 2021, while the body of Mossie O’Sulllivan (63), partner of Eileen and father of Jamie, was found outside the house.
Eileen and Jamie died from single wounds from a shotgun fired at close range and verdicts of unlawful killing were returned in their cases. A verdict of suicide was returned by coroner Helen Lucey in the case of Mossie O’Sullivan.
A shotgun, licensed in his name, was found on the ground near his body and the firearm had been discharged four times, Det Garda Brian Barry said. He said four empty cartridges were recovered, including two from Eileen’s bedroom.
Assistant State pathologist Margot Bolster, who visited the scene at Kilfeaney, told the inquest in Listowel on Wednesday that Eileen O’Sullivan was shot in the upper arm and chest, from which she died. Her injuries showed she had tried to protect herself, she said, while there were no defence injuries in Jamie’s case.
Jane Joyce, a neighbour, said she spoke with Eileen O’Sullivan for about 10 minutes after seeing her walking her dog on September 6th, the day before her death.
“She was her normal, happy self. The same old Eileen,” she said in a deposition.
Tadgh O’Leary, shift supervisor at Liebherr, where Jamie O’Sullivan worked as a fitter, described the young man as “a quiet fellow who got on well with his co-workers”. He finished his shift late on Monday and was due back on Tuesday, but did not turn up, which was unusual, Mr O’Leary said.
Maurice McCarthy, a retired farmer, said in his deposition that Mossie O’Sullivan would drive him to medical appointments and they would speak on the phone regularly. He said when they spoke on September 6th “it was like he was in an awful hurry to come off the phone”.
Kathleen Harrington said she lived beside Eileen O’Sullivan’s family for more than 40 years. Mossie moved in about 30 years ago and then Jamie was born, she said in her deposition, adding that they were a private but happy couple.
The Harringtons became concerned on September 7th when Eileen’s phone rang out. They saw the O’Sullivan’s door was open but did not want to go in and in case Jamie was sleeping ahead of a shift.
When another woman drove in to buy honey from Eileen O’Sullivan, Ms Harrington looked in and saw Eileen and Jamie dead in their bedrooms. They went to the home of another neighbour, John O’Mahony, to raise the alarm.
Mr O’Mahony said he had known Mossie since school and they spoke for an hour on the Sunday before the incident. “He was going on about his stomach and saying if he had to go to hospital who would mind his sheep.”
Ms Lucey said it was a terrible tragedy that had “a colossal impact” on neighbours, family, friends and the wider community. “An entire family (was) wiped out,” the coroner said, extending her sympathy to the relatives of the O’Sullivans.
After the inquest, Eileen’s sisters, Mary and Margaret, said in a statement delivered by solicitor John Cashell that the past 20 months had been “traumatic and devastating” for them.
No one had the right to take the life of another under any circumstances, they said, adding that after witnessing first hand the “shocking and devastating” impact this incident had, they had campaigned for change to the firearms licensing system. They met Minister for Justice Simon Harris two weeks ago about the issue.
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