Family of man who lay dead in Cork house for 20 years request privacy

Tim O’Sullivan, whose disappearance ‘haunted’ family, to be buried on Wednesday

A community in south Kerry is rallying around the family of a man whose body lay undiscovered in a house in north Cork for over 20 years, a local priest has said.

Fr Gerard Finucane of Dromod Parish in south Kerry told The Irish Times that the family of the late Tim O’Sullivan were grieving for their brother after they learned last Tuesday that the remains found in a house in Beecher St in Mallow were his.

“The loss of a loved one in any circumstances is never easy but the community here in Dromod have great understanding and are rallying around to support Tim’s family in every way they can at this difficult time,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan will be buried following requiem mass at the Church of Our Lady of the Valley in Cillian Liath at midday on Wednesday with burial afterwards in Dromod Cemetery, said Fr Finucane, adding that the family had requested privacy and asked that no media attend the funeral.


It’s understood that Mass will be live-streamed to facilitate the late Mr O’Sullivan’s sister, Noreen, who lives in Australia, and his brother, Pat, who is in Monaghan. His sister, Maureen, and her children will be the chief mourners at the requiem mass.

Fr Finucane said the late Mr O’Sullivan, who was born and grew up in the UK, was a regular visitor to Dromod and he often visited the area where his father grew up and where his sister, Maureen, returned to after she married local man, Mikey ‘Shine’ O’Sullivan in London in 1969.

“He used to come back regularly to visit Maureen and her family here. He would come over on his motorbike and he was a bit of a musician as well – he used to come back with his former wife in the earlier days,” he added.

“It’s a very sad story to think that he was there in Mallow all these years when they were looking for him but now at least now they know in a sense what happened to him – it brings some sort of resolution and closure for them as a family.”

The late Mr O’Sullivan’s family issued a statement on Thursday in which they said they had been haunted by Mr O’Sullivan’s disappearance from his home on Beecher Street in Mallow sometime in the early 2000s but had never ceased trying to find him.

“We, the family of Timothy O’Sullivan, would like to state that, while we are heartbroken and very upset at the circumstances of his death, we are simultaneously relieved and happy that the ultimate question that has haunted us for many years about his whereabouts and circumstances has been resolved and we, as a family, can now lay him to rest with his family as is his right.

“Timothy was born in 1939 in England. He worked as a compositor in a printing works in the UK and was a very bright, intelligent, and able man and came to Kerry often on his holidays with his wife. He purchased a house in Mallow and moved there later in his life when his marriage broke down.”

“Reports have been made in the media in recent days that Tim struggled with his mental health but really it was more a case of a man with a broken heart, who wished for privacy and time to be alone to come to terms with his separation as was his right,” said the family.

Mr O’Sullivan’s skeletal remains were found under a duvet on a bed in the boarded-up house on Beecher St by two Cork County Council staff when they entered the boarded-up, derelict property on January 13th to block up shores after the council received complaints of rodent infestation.

Gardaí used dental records to confirm that the skeletal remains were those of Mr O’Sullivan after Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, confirmed he had not died a violent death. Gardaí had found a tub of butter with an expiry date of 2001, suggesting he was dead over 20 years.

Cork advocate for the elderly, Paddy O’Brien said Mr O’Sullivan’s death and the fact he lay undiscovered for so long highlighted again the need for better monitoring of the elderly and he called for changes to state agencies practices when people fail to collect social welfare payments.

“Three years ago when we had two men discovered here in Cork, in their homes in Maddens’ Buildings and the Glen and both lay undiscovered for months, I wrote to the Dept of Social Protection in Sligo asking them what their practice or protocol was,” said Mr O’Brien.

“They wrote back to tell me that if a pension isn’t collected by a person after five weeks, they write to them and if they fail to respond, then the Department discontinues the payment so I rang them and spoke to a senior official there and told him that that was appalling and more needs to be done.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times