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splitting the cash Kanturk tragedy: Dying mother considered selling farm to end bitter inheritance row

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The farmhouse in Kanturk, Co Cork, where the bodies of Tadg O’Sullivan and his sons were found. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

The farmhouse in Kanturk, Co Cork, where the bodies of Tadg O’Sullivan and his sons were found. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

The farmhouse in Kanturk, Co Cork, where the bodies of Tadg O’Sullivan and his sons were found. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

Anne O’Sullivan was so desperate to end a dispute with her youngest son over a €2m farm inheritance that she considered selling her entire holding and splitting the cash proceeds.

Mrs O’Sullivan (61) admitted to friends she was left frightened by the stance adopted by her younger son, Diarmuid, and her husband of 27 years, Tadg, over the fate of the 115-acre farm outside Kanturk in north Co Cork.

However, she hoped right up to the day of the murder and double-suicide on October 26, 2020 that claimed the lives of her husband and two sons that an amicable solution to the land stand-off could be achieved.

Mrs O’Sullivan had proposed an even split of the farm between her sons Mark (25) and Diarmuid (23) – something Diarmuid vehemently opposed.

She inherited the land at Raheen from her parents. When she married Tadg O’Sullivan in 1993, the title remained in her name – as did land at Cecilstown, which Mr O’Sullivan had inherited from his family.

The issue of the land inheritance only emerged after February 28 last year when Mrs O’Sullivan, a nurse, informed her husband and sons she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The relationship between her two sons had been slowly breaking down. Diarmuid “adored” his father while Mark was said to be very much like his mother.

Only days after his mother’s cancer diagnosis, Diarmuid took her aside and explained his “vision” for her land.

“He said he would likely spend the rest of his life in debt because of it,” she later recalled, saying he wanted to develop the holding.

Tadg and Diarmuid were agitated that Raheen was “static” and not progressing.

Diarmuid, an accountancy student, was adamant he wanted the lion’s share of the holding.

“He said he felt he was entitled to it… [he felt] Mark did not deserve it,” Mrs O’Sullivan said.

But Diarmuid was also going to inherit Tadg’s land at Cecilstown, and Mrs O’Sullivan was concerned for Mark.

She was left reeling when her husband forcefully sided with Diarmuid, and bluntly told her to “get your affairs in order”.

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He said Diarmuid deserved the land at Raheen because he worked so hard, and was scathing about Mark, who he described as “lazy”.

On March 4, Tadg and Diarmuid confronted Mrs O’Sullivan in her bedroom about the inheritance, leaving her frightened.

Diarmuid later threatened to take his own life if he did not get what he wanted over the will, and Tadg warned Mark he would be the cause of his brother’s death.

Mark confided in his friend from the University of Limerick, Charmilla Raman, about the row.

She later told gardaí that Mark described Diarmuid as obsessed about money.

She said Mark was concerned about the tax implications of a business Diarmuid had started with his father, which sold firewood for cash.

“My interactions with them [Tadg and Diarmuid] were minimal,” said Ms Raman. “I didn’t like Diarmuid – he didn’t seem that nice. He didn’t give off good vibes.

“Don’t know how they are related. Mark’s father came across a bit thick. When I met him, we didn’t really speak.

“Mark said he thought Diarmuid was a bit spoiled. Mark thought he was obsessed with money. He was always trying to find ways to make money.

“Mark also said that when they found out that their mother had cancer, Diarmuid smiled or smirked.”

Ms Raman, like Mark’s other friend Clara Lucey, urged him to leave the family home after Diarmuid told a neighbour on October 11 he would leave “a trail of carnage” if he did not get his way over the will.

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