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devoted couple A note on a door: shocking double tragedy that rocked a quiet Kenmare estate

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The house at Dromneavane Estate in Kenmare, County Kerry where the bodies of two elderly people were found on Sunday. Photo: Don MacMonagle

The house at Dromneavane Estate in Kenmare, County Kerry where the bodies of two elderly people were found on Sunday. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Phyllis and Tony Gilbert

Phyllis and Tony Gilbert

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The house at Dromneavane Estate in Kenmare, County Kerry where the bodies of two elderly people were found on Sunday. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Everyone in Kenmare knew Tony and Phyllis Gilbert were a devoted couple, living together in their house in Dromneavane on the outskirts of the town.

Dromneavane is one of Kenmare’s oldest housing estates – with many in the local community either retired or in late middle age.

It is the type of estate where everyone knows everyone else, and residents look out for each other.

That made the discovery of the bodies of Tony and Phyllis Gilbert, both in their 80s, all the more shocking for locals last Sunday in the south Kerry town.

It had been an ordinary day in the quiet housing estate. That was until a concerned local raised concerns about the welfare of the couple after a note was found carefully attached to the door.

The devastating news of the deaths of the couple soon spread throughout the close-knit community, leaving people extremely saddened at the news of the double tragedy.

It will take some time before the cause of their deaths will be known, but it is understood that both are being treated as personal tragedies.

It is understood the note told the finder to contact gardaí.

As would be typical in such cases, an inquest will be held to determine the cause of death.

Both Tony and Phyllis were pronounced dead at the scene and their bodies removed to University Hospital Kerry, where the post-mortems took place on Monday.

As a gesture of respect, and a token of kindness, flowers were soon laid at the scene.

Parish Priest Fr George Hayes said there is a deep “sense of shock” in the community of Kenmare at the sudden death of the couple.

While Fr Hayes did not personally know either of them he said Tony’s skill as an artist played a part in parish life – he had helped with engraving work at the church.

“Tony was a well-known artist and glass engraver who had a business in Kenmare for many years prior to his retirement and after the couple moved to Kenmare from the UK.

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“Some of Tony’s skill as an artist can be seen in the engraved glass panels at the entrance to Holy Cross Church Kenmare.

"The faith community of Holy Cross Church has offered and will continue to offer prayers for Tony and Phyllis – that they may rest in God’s care.

“Let us also continue to pray for and to reach out to all those who may be experiencing vulnerability during these days of Covid-19 and its challenges.”

The couple are survived by their son, Stephen and his partner Hilary, their daughter-in-law Beryl and grandchildren Skylar and Felicity as well as neighbours and friends.

They were much loved and their family are now left devastated by the sudden deaths.

The couple originally from the UK had been living in Kenmare for almost 30 years and had made the town their home like many others from England who have also settled there.

They had originally lived in Blackwater, then in Kenmare town in a flat over the Soundz of Muzic on Henry Street, the street where they also ran their local glass engraving business from.

They then moved to Dromneavane where they were part of the community for many years.

The couple were always together and were very helpful to all their neighbours.

Kit Dunlop who runs Soundz of Muzic knew Tony well and paid tribute to him.

He said he was a ‘character’ with a great sense of humour who lived a very interesting life.

“He lived above the shop. We are both Englishmen and we shared a sense of humour.”

“He was very well educated and well mannered and wouldn’t say a bad word about anyone ...We were friendly, we would stop and chat and have a good laugh.

“He was a genuinely nice man who lived a very interesting life.”

Tony had a military background and spoke fluent Russian.

Meanwhile, local councillor, Patrick Connor Scarteen said: “Like many others Tony and Phyllis made Kenmare their home. I knew Tony. He was a gentleman and very polite. I would often meet him out walking.

“He was also very talented and artistic,” added Mr Scarteen.

Cllr Dan McCarthy also expressed the sadness felt by the local community. He said: “They were quiet, honest people. He was a gifted man, he was a glass engraver and he had a shop in town on Henry Street before he retired.

“I knew him to see. It is very tragic news for the entire community and an air of gloom hangs over the town.”

A private funeral and cremation was organised for the couple.


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