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'Tragic confrontation' Ballistic evidence may hold key to Kanturk murder-suicide tragedy as inquests open

Mark was apparently shot by his father, Tadg, and younger brother, Diarmuid, in a tragic confrontation at their Kanturk home in north Cork over a disputed €2m will.

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Father Tadg and son Mark O’Sullivan

Father Tadg and son Mark O’Sullivan

Father Tadg and son Mark O’Sullivan

BALLISTIC reports and legal documentation will today help explain the tragic circumstances of a suspected murder-double suicide in which three members of a farming family died.

A coroner will today open inquests into the deaths of Tadg O'Sullivan (59) and his two sons, Mark (25) and Diarmuid (23).

Mark was apparently shot by his father, Tadg, and younger brother, Diarmuid, in a tragic confrontation at their Kanturk home in north Cork over a disputed €2m will.

Both Tadg and Diarmuid then died minutes later in a field near a fairy fort just metres from the farmhouse.

The mother who lost her husband and two sons to the horrific murder-double suicide died last April, having been diagnosed with a serious illness.

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Anne O’Sullivan at the funeral of her son Mark O’Sullivan (Andy Gibson/PA)

Anne O’Sullivan at the funeral of her son Mark O’Sullivan (Andy Gibson/PA)

Anne O’Sullivan at the funeral of her son Mark O’Sullivan (Andy Gibson/PA)

Anne O'Sullivan (61) was already battling a long-term health condition when the tragedy occurred at the farmhouse at Assolas outside Kanturk last October.

Mrs O'Sullivan died just days after she had turned 61.

She had been very ill in the weeks before her death and had been cared for at a hospice.

The nurse had made a statement to gardaí about the circumstances surrounding the triple tragedy.

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The coffin of Mark O'Sullivan is carried into the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Kanturk, Co Cork, for his funeral service.

The coffin of Mark O'Sullivan is carried into the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Kanturk, Co Cork, for his funeral service.

The coffin of Mark O'Sullivan is carried into the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Kanturk, Co Cork, for his funeral service.

Now North Cork Coroner Dr Michael Kennedy is scheduled to open the inquests into the deaths of Tadg, Mark and Diarmuid in Mallow today, having postponed the hearing last month because of logistical issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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In the early hours of October 26, 2020, Tadg and Diarmuid apparently confronted Mark in his bedroom in the family home outside Kanturk in north Cork.

Mark died after being shot multiple times at close range.

Anne, who was also in the farmhouse, was left unharmed by her husband and youngest son though they took her mobile phone - forcing her to run to a neighbour's house to raise the alarm.

Mark was later found dead in his bedroom by armed gardaí who raced to the scene.

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Tadgh O’Sullivan and his son Diarmuid (Family handout/PA)

Tadgh O’Sullivan and his son Diarmuid (Family handout/PA)

Tadgh O’Sullivan and his son Diarmuid (Family handout/PA)

The entire area was cordoned off by armed gardaí as officers launched a major search of the extended area.

The bodies of the father and younger brother were later located by gardaí 600 metres from the farmhouse off the Castlemagner-Kanturk road.

Both had sustained a single fatal gunshot injury and were found at a field known as The Fort, adjacent to an old fairy fort.

Two rifles were found nearby - with indications each had been discharged once at the field.

Three legally held firearms in total were recovered by gardaí from both scenes - two rifles and a shotgun.

However, the indications were that the shotgun was not used.

Ballistic reports will be central to explaining at the inquest the sequence of the fatal shots being discharged.

Post-mortem reports will also be critical with medical reports from all three examinations conducted at Cork University Hospital.

The triple tragedy was apparently sparked by a bitter dispute over a family will, which is believed would have seen Mark inherit a substantial local farm holding of more than 140 acres.

In contrast, his younger brother apparently felt he was excluded from any significant inheritance - and was supported in his position by his father.

Attempts to resolve the dispute failed and eldest son Mark was confronted by his father and younger brother amid mounting tensions over the impasse.

Documentation in respect of the dispute was found near the bodies of Tadg and Diarmuid.

Legal letters were subsequently found by gardaí at the property itself when a painstaking search was conducted after the tragedy.

All of these documents will now feature in the inquest alongside evidence from neighbours and family members.

Mrs O'Sullivan had only returned to the Assolas farmhouse 36 hours before the tragedy, having travelled to a medical appointment in Dublin with her eldest son.

A key element of the Garda investigation was whether the mother and her eldest son were deliberately lured back to the farmhouse.

The mother and son had initially stayed away from the Assolas property when they returned to Kanturk from the medical appointment.

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