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Miriam Burns: Gardaí probe whether Killarney grandmother was focus of threats before murder

Gardaí search Killarney wishing well and castle site in inquiry into murder of grandmother

Miriam Burns was found dead at her home in Killarney

Killarney grandmother Miriam Burns was found dead at her home in the town on Monday


Gardaí are investigating whether murdered Killarney grandmother Miriam Burns was the focus of threats and was living in fear of someone known to her.

The revelation came as forensic officers searched land near an old Killarney wishing well in a trawl directly linked to the arrest of a man in his 50s over Mrs Burns’s killing.

Uniformed officers and detectives started a detailed search of an area around the old well yesterday morning.

A second site near Ross Castle was also examined.

One source indicated the primary target of the search operation was the recovery of clothing and material which may potentially be connected to the killing.

“Forensic results will be absolutely critical in this investigation,” the source said.

Killarney grandmother Miriam Burns was found dead at her home in the town on Monday

Kerry gardaí believe Mrs Burns, who was 75, was fatally assaulted in her home between last Friday and last Monday.

Detectives fear Mrs Burns was beaten to death in her home by someone known to her.

They also fear she had been dead for some time when she was discovered at lunchtime on Monday.

They are now investigating whether Mrs Burns was the target of threatening behaviour some time ago and whether that may be linked to the circumstances of her death.

An Garda Síochána launched a murder investigation on Tuesday evening into the death of the kind-hearted grandmother and mother of four, who has been hailed as “Killarney’s smiling lady”.

Detectives arrested a man in his 50s within an hour of the murder investigation being confirmed. He was known to the woman.

The man, who was arrested in the south Kerry area, was taken to Killarney garda station. He was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Killarney solicitor Padraig O’Connell attended the garda station and will act for the individual.

The arrested man was given a medical assessment and has so far taken both food and rest breaks.

He was questioned throughout yesterday.

The man was brought by gardaí to both Killarney sites being searched yesterday by forensic experts as part of their investigation.

His period of detention is set to expire today by which time gardaí must decide whether to charge or release him.

Gardaí declined to release the findings of a postmortem for operational reasons but confirmed they are treating the woman’s death as murder.

No funeral details for Mrs Burns have been announced yet.

Emotional tributes were paid to Mrs Burns, who was hailed by shocked friends and neighbours.

She was discovered lying dead in a front room of her two-storey terrace home at lunchtime on Monday.

Neighbours had called to the house after one of Mrs Burns’s children, who lives overseas, became deeply concerned at being unable to contact her.

The pensioner lived for most of her adult life in the Ardshanavooly area but is understood to be originally from Milltown.

She is from a large and highly respected family in south Kerry.

Mrs Burns was known as an avid gardener and for the stunning roses she grew.

Councillor Donal Grady, who lives in Ardshanavooly, paid tribute to Miriam Burns who he knew personally and described as a wonderful mother and grandmother.

"The smiling lady is gone," he said.

"This is a big loss to Killarney. She had a kind word for everyone. She had a smile for everyone - but now that smile is gone."

"This is a very close town. Everyone knows everyone else here and her loss will be felt very deeply."

Mrs Burns lived in the mature housing estate since the 1970s and was known for her involvement in community groups and her preference to cycle to destinations around Killarney town.

Neighbours said they would see Mrs Burns on her bicycle around the estate and the town centre on almost a daily basis.

Her neighbour Ann Cronin said it was "a desperate tragedy" for the estate, the family and the entire Killarney community.

"She really was a lovely person. She was very good to her family, her friends and her neighbours. Everyone feels desperate, to be honest."

Neighbour Paul O'Shea fought back tears at the news of her death.

"It is terrible, really terrible. She was a lovely, lovely lady. She had a kind word for everyone she met. It (the tragedy) is hurting."

Tom Wharton, who lived in Ardshanavooly for seven years, said Mrs Burns always had a cheery wave and a warm smile for neighbours.

"It is such a sad, sad story. It is a desperate thing to happen, especially to such a nice lady."

Councillor Niall 'Botty' O'Callaghan said it was a desperately sad day for Killarney.

"She was a very elegant lady and a kindhearted person."

"Miriam has a large extended family in Killarney and they are really fabulous people. They are very well known and highly respected in the town. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them."

"This has impacted on every part of Killarney. Miriam was a lovely lady and you'd see her cycling up and down the town. She was a fabulous lady, always smiling and a warm wave to anyone she met. She loved talking to people and she would chat all day."

Ardshanavooly is a popular residential area located within walking distance of Killarney town centre and popular local amenities including the Killarney Outlet Centre.

Mrs Burns has four children, several of whom now live abroad. She also hails from a large south Kerry family.

She adored travel and regularly visited European cities, often travelling to meet up with some of her children.

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