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locals in shock Horror double murder-suicide of Hennessy brothers was sparked by dispute over farmland


Paddy and Willie Hennessy Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Paddy and Willie Hennessy Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Paddy and Willie Hennessy Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Three brothers nicknamed ‘The Saints’ died in a suspected double murder-suicide in what is believed to be a dispute over land.

Willie (66), Paddy ‘Pa’ (60) and John (59) Hennessy were all found dead yesterday in an incident that has shocked the rural heartland of Corragorm, just outside Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

Two of the brothers were bludgeoned to death with an axe at the family farm.

A third brother was recovered dead from the River Funshion outside Mitchelstown less than 1km from where his car was found parked near the church where the brothers usually worshipped following a massive Garda manhunt.

Detectives fear that the suspected double murder-suicide was sparked by a dispute between the trio – described by locals as incredibly close over their lifetime – about the small 25 acre farm and the income derived from it against a background of health issues.

However, gardaí said they are baffled as to the precise motive involved.

Paddy had suffered a stroke before Christmas and was still recovering.

It was the third tragedy to hit the family, with a fourth brother, Jer, having died in tragic circumstances in January 2014. The son of one of the brothers also died in tragic circumstances in May 2012.

The bodies of Paddy and Willie Hennessy were discovered at their Corragorm farm 6km from Mitchelstown when a concerned relative went to the property amid concern for their welfare shortly after 11pm on Thursday night and alerted gardaí.

One brother was found with horrific head injuries lying in the farmyard. A second brother was found with similarly horrific injuries in a nearby farm shed. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

A third brother, John Hennessy, who lived at the property, was not present and his red Toyota Corolla van was missing.

Gardaí at the scene between Mitchelstown and Kildorrery were supported by armed members of the Regional Support Unit (RSU).

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Despite initial indications, gardaí said they are satisfied that no firearm was used in the tragedy.

Gardaí conducted a massive manhunt for the third brother and his red Toyota was located parked near Killacluig Church 4km from the farmhouse around 9am.

A massive search of the local countryside outside Mitchelstown commenced with the search being supported by uniformed gardaí, Garda dog units and the Garda helicopter.

Shortly after noon, gardaí spotted a body in the nearby River Funshion and it was later recovered by the Garda Water Unit.
Three scenes
the farmhouse, car park and river field have been preserved and are undergoing examination by forensic experts from the Garda Technical Bureau.

Locum State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster visited the scene shortly after 1pm and all three bodies were later removed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for post mortem examinations.

Supt Liam Geraghty said gardaí were not looking for anyone else in relation to the tragedy.

More than 50 officers were deployed to the operation.

“Gardaí have commenced a criminal investigation into a set of tragic incidents here in Mitchelstown. We are not looking for anyone else in relation to this matter at this time,” he said.

Supt Geraghty said no weapon had been recovered yet.

“Gardaí will support the family through this personal tragedy for them. We will have to wait for post mortem results to determine the nature of the injuries but at this stage we do not anticipate that any firearm was involved.”

Gardaí appealed to anyone with information on the incidents to contact investigating Gardai at Mitchelstown Garda Station 025 84833, Fermoy garda station, the Garda Confidential Number 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

Locals expressed deep shock at the tragedy.

Willie and John Hennessy lived at the Corragorm farm while Pa lived in Mitchelstown. Liam O’Donnell was a neighbour of the three brothers and described them as “very quiet people, hard-working men and really great neighbours.”

Mr O’Donnell said he was quite friendly with Willie Hennessy and used to regularly call to the house for a chat or a cup of tea.

“They were very close. They were hard-working people all their lives. They were great neighbours and were three of the nicest men you could ever hope to meet,” he said.

Pa’s former employer, Michael Downey of JD Tyres, said he was “the salt of the earth.”

“Paddy was such a hard-working man and was a great colleague and a lovely fella,” he said.

“He worked in the tyre business for most of his life he worked for Suttons, Hanover and JD. You couldn’t ask for a better person to have work alongside you. He was such a likeable man.”

Another employee, who was too upset to give his name, worked alongside Paddy for 18 years and said he loved handball, music and his local community.

All three brothers were noted handball players in Mitchelstown in the 1970s and 80s.

The brothers also worked at fuel supplies, delivering firewood to homes throughout north Cork.

Former Cork East TD Kevin O’Keeffe, a neighbour of the brothers, said the family were very highly respected and were known for their hard work.

“It is beyond belief what happened. It is a total shock and no one knows what could have happened. Our hearts go out to the Hennessy family and their sister Breda,” he said.

“They kept to themselves and were known locally as ‘The Saints’. It is such a terrible thing for people here in Mitchelstown.”

Councillor Frank Roche said the tragedy - coming so soon after the shocking murder-double suicide in Kanturk - raised serious issues about supports for rural Ireland.

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