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'Awful situation' Daughter of man killed in Cork double murder-suicide says tragedy was 'like something from a documentary'

"My dad was one in an absolute million. There will never be a man like him again. They were the best men that ever walked the planet - all of them. They were so gentle."


Willie and Paddy Hennessy

Willie and Paddy Hennessy

The late Paddy and Willie Hennessy Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The late Paddy and Willie Hennessy Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision


Willie and Paddy Hennessy

THE daughter of a man who died in a shocking double murder-suicide said she never in her wildest dreams could ever have imagined her family would face such an horrific tragedy.

Elaine Hennessy lost her father Paddy (60) in a triple tragedy in Mitchelstown, Co Cork last February that also claimed the lives of her uncles, Johnny Hennessy (59) and Willie (66).

The brave woman has now spoken of her family's ordeal to raise awareness of mental health issues and raise funding for a special counselling service.

Gardaí are investigating whether Johnny Hennessy may have been overwrought from financial stress, rural isolation and the impact of the Covid-19 Level 5 lockdown before he attacked his brothers Willie and Paddy with an axe at the family farm at Corragorm outside Mitchelstown on February 25.

Willie and Paddy Hennessy suffered horrific head injuries in what one source described as ambush-style attacks - both being individually attacked with an axe before they could flee or properly defend themselves.

Paddy's body was found in a farmyard with multiple head injuries.

His brother Willie's body was found in a nearby shed, also with severe head injuries.

After the attack, Johnny Hennessy then drove his Toyota Corolla van the short 4km distance to Killacluig Church where he parked and walked over several fields.

His body was recovered shortly before lunch on February 26 from the River Funshion.

Now, Paddy's daughter Elaine has spoken out about the triple tragedy in a bid to support the Cork Mental Health Foundation.

The mother of four will take part in a special sleep-out on May 1 to support local mental health advocate and campaigner Carmel O'Gorman.

Elaine - whose youngest baby was born just 16 weeks ago - said her family are taking things day-by-day.

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"We are just doing as well as anyone could do in the circumstances. We are just going day by day - just trying to keep positive really," she told C103FM.

"It is an awful situation. I have four children and I am just trying my best to be strong for them really.

"We are trying to teach the kids that no matter what happens in life, keep going - we hope there are better days ahead.

"I am determined for their mental health to show them that you have to keep going in life no matter what.

"That is all we can do - one day one of us might not have a good day but we try to be there, keep positive. There is still life there, the kids are young and you have to show them that life can get better."


The late Paddy and Willie Hennessy Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The late Paddy and Willie Hennessy Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The late Paddy and Willie Hennessy Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Elaine heartbreakingly revealed she had discovered the tragic scene at the farm that February evening.

"I went out and found them - my dad had a stroke previously and I thought my dad was after having a stroke. It was a shock when I went out.

"They were absolutely the nicest men you would ever meet - there will never be men like them again.

"They were so easy going - they lived simple lives, they were happy with the simple things in life.

"My dad was one in an absolute million. There will never be a man like him again. They were the best men that ever walked the planet - all of them. They were so gentle."

"They did their own thing, they kept to themselves. They were really good men.

"Hard-working - my dad always kept busy and he loved sport. He was always on the go. He was recovering well from the stroke and was happy to have a bit of health back.

"He was not a man to sit around."

Elaine said her family were left reeling by the sheer scale of the tragedy.

"In your wildest dreams no one would imagine anything this horrific could happen to such lovely people. Of course it is surreal. It just doesn't happen really. It was like something from a documentary on Netflix. It is not something you see in real life.

"It was very tough (the funerals). But the sense of shock I suppose keeps you going. The children are our saving grace – they are such good, positive children. We just want to give them the best life going. That is what my dad would have wanted. We are really trying to stay positive for them."

Elaine's children range in age from 12 years to 16 weeks.

Her youngest child was only eight weeks old when the tragedy occurred.

The brave young woman now urged people to support mental health charities - and not to be afraid to seek help if they need it.

"I want anyone suffering out there - I have been in counselling myself and I just think it is so important to talk. If you don't talk it takes a toll. Talking about it definitely helps. You don't realise the weight it lifts off you.

"Especially for men - I have three sons and I never want any of them to bottle stuff up... to talk as much as you can about stuff as best you can."

Elaine said she believed the pandemic lockdowns have taken a toll on mental health across the country.

"I think 100pc it (the lockdown) is pushing people over the edge. Normal life is gone and a lot of people are living on their own and are isolated. There is nothing worse than being stuck in your own thoughts. If you are waiting for mental health services, everything is so long - it puts such a strain on people."

Elaine lost her brother to suicide nine years ago and that was her first introduction to counselling.

"I lost my brother to suicide nine years ago coming up next May. That is when I first went to counselling and I found it absolutely life-changing. I think everyone should be in counselling - even secondary school children. Just to be able to talk and how to cope with your emotions and feelings.

"Coping skills are brilliant and counselling is great for that."

Elaine along with local mental health advocate and campaigner Carmel O'Gorman are holding a sleep-out at dawn on Saturday, May 1.

All funds raised for Cork Mental Health Foundation will assist in funding low-cost counselling for people in distress.

Taking part in the sleepout are Michael O'Gorman, Carmel O'Gorman, Elaine Hennessey, Stephanie Hennessey and Jack Hennessey. All will be socially distanced during the sleep out.

They will also light lanterns at 5.30am in memory of everyone who has lost their lives to mental health issues.

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