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'Tragic loss' Funeral of Kanturk mother who lost husband and sons in shooting tragedy takes place

Mrs O'Sullivan died on Wednesday after being treated in a Cork hospice for a long-standing serious health condition.

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Anne O’Sullivan (centre) is consoled at the funeral of her son Mark in Kanturk, Co Cork, last October. Photo: David Conachy

Anne O’Sullivan (centre) is consoled at the funeral of her son Mark in Kanturk, Co Cork, last October. Photo: David Conachy

Anne O’Sullivan (centre) is consoled at the funeral of her son Mark in Kanturk, Co Cork, last October. Photo: David Conachy

A MOTHER who lost her husband and two sons to an horrific murder-double suicide six months ago was hailed for the remarkable dignity and courage with which she faced the tragedies in her life.

The tribute came as Fr Toby Bluitt celebrated the private requiem mass of Anne O'Sullivan (61) in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Kanturk, Co Cork - the same church at which the requiem mass of her murdered son Mark (25) was held six months ago.

Mrs O'Sullivan died on Wednesday after being treated in a Cork hospice for a long-standing serious health condition.

The former nurse was already battling the serious health condition when her husband, Tadg (59) and youngest son, Diarmuid (23), fatally confronted her eldest son, Mark (25), after a dispute over a €2m Cork farm inheritance tragically escalated.

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Anne O’Sullivan with her beloved son Mark, who was murdered by his brother and dad on the family farm in Co Cork last year.

Anne O’Sullivan with her beloved son Mark, who was murdered by his brother and dad on the family farm in Co Cork last year.

Anne O’Sullivan with her beloved son Mark, who was murdered by his brother and dad on the family farm in Co Cork last year.

On October 26, Tadg and Diarmuid confronted Mark in the bedroom of the family home at Assolas outside Kanturk in north Cork and shot him multiple times.

Mrs O’Sullivan, 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 gardaí.

The bodies of his father and younger brother were located by Gardaí some 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 as well as a lengthy note left for the attention of Mrs O'Sullivan.

Fr Bluitt told her requiem mass that Mrs O'Sullivan had faced tragedies in her life.

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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)

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"Anne lost her battle against her illness. She died, as we might say, before her time. As was characteristic of her she accepted her fate with dignity and courage but lost out in the end," he said.

"I know that we are conscious of the fact that Anne’s untimely passing was not the only tragedy in her life. We here in our community are well aware of the recent painful and tragic loss that Anne suffered – a tragedy that affected us all."

"We recognize a wider context for our grief today. We know that there are other clouds behind the landscape of our sorrow. We note this but it is not for us to pass comment or judgement. We simply acknowledge the fact."

"While we want to mourn, we also want to say 'thanks'. We want to remember and to pray. We want to gather around Anne for a last final farewell in the place that nourished her faith and fostered her hope."

"On behalf of Bishop Crean, Father John and the Christian communities of Castlemagner, Kanturk and Lismire, I extend our deepest sympathy to Anne’s family, relatives and friends. I wish also to extend our thanks to the wider community who have expressed sympathy and support to all involved at this time."

"We don’t live in an ideal world, that’s the problem. Illness can come and challenge us and defeat us. Tragedy, and serious tragedy, can come and haunt us and change our lives irreparably."

"The clouds that can, and do, settle over our lives sometimes rob us of fulfilment and peace, of an ordered and easy existence. They bring a darkness into our lives that we feel cannot be shaken. We feel helpless and, even perhaps, afraid."

"Darkness came into Anne’s life when she lost her family in very sad and tragic circumstances, and when she lost her battle with the illness she had fought so courageously."

He said the entire north Cork community was impacted by the tragedies last October.

"Yet, in the face of all darkness, even that of death itself, Christians never lose hope. We are people of hope even when trouble comes our way."

"The fact is that when someone dies there is this great sense of emptiness, this enormous sense of loss. And we have an added sadness, I think, that for Anne, for one family, life didn’t work out the way it might have. So, that we are in fact troubled, we are at a loss."

"A nurse by profession, Anne brought an attitude of care and concern towards those who were entrusted to her. Now she herself has found care, the care of a loving Father who has brought her to Himself to care for her, to look after her, to love her for all eternity."

"It is springtime. The days are getting longer, life is springing up all around us in the budding of leaves and in the singing of the birds. There is hope in nature, there is hope in the world, there is hope for Anne as for us all. We Christians are people of hope."

The Mass was concelebrated with Fr John Magner while the readings, the Prayers of the Faithful and the Holy Communion reflection were delivered by Mrs O'Sullivan's cousins.

Last October, three legally held firearms were recovered by Gardai from both scenes at Assolas - two rifles and a shotgun.

The triple tragedy was sparked by a bitter dispute over a family will which apparently would have seen Mark inherit a substantial local farm holding of more than 140 acres and worth some €2m.

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

Attempts to resolve the dispute failed and 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 - and legal letters were found by Gardaí at the property itself.

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

Gardaí now fear both she and her eldest son were deliberately lured back to the property.

The mother of two - who worked for years as a nurse at Mt Alvernia Hospital outside Mallow - attended both the requiem mass of Tadg and Diarmuid and later the requiem mass of her son, Mark.

Mark, a trainee solicitor, was hailed as "the greatest son a mother could have."

His requiem mass heard that "the bond between them (Anne and Mark) was unbreakable."

"Mark had such a big heart and so much love to give...I can't imagine how much effort and love he put into being Anne's son," his best friend Sharmilla said.

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