Gardaí investigating the double murder-suicide that has rocked a small north Kerry community say they have “no motive” for the killings.
Gardaí are “keeping an open mind” as to why Morris “Mossie” O’Sullivan, 63, shot his partner Eileen, 56, and the couple’s son, Jamie, 24, at their home in Lixnaw, Co Kerry on Tuesday evening.
Their bodies were discovered by neighbour and family friend John Mahony at around 8.30pm on Tuesday, September 7.
Gardai were immediately called to the house, just outside Lixnaw, north Co Kerry.
They found the bodies of Eileen and Jamie and , a short while later, the body of Mr O’Sullivan.
The former mechanic and bus driver, who farmed on a smallholding of about 20 acres, appears to have died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
A legally-held firearm was found by his side.
Superintendent Paul Kennedy of Listowel Garda Station said gardaí do not know why he did what he did.
And he said gardaí were not alerted in advance about any concerns for the family’s safety.
In a number of previous murder suicide cases, gardaí had been alerted in advance by concerned neighbours or family members.
“This was a very decent family who were not previously known to us,” he said at a press briefing outside Lixnaw Garda Station at 4pm on Wednesday.
“At the moment we don’t have a motive.
“We have a lot of unanswered questions.”
Members of the local community expressed their shock at the tragedy.
Parish priest Fr Anthony O’Sullivan, who gave the family the last rites, said people cannot make sense of what has happened.
Sense of ‘utter numbness’ in local community
He said there was a sense of “utter numbness” in the local community.
“There is a numbness and an unreality about all this, and utter disbelief that this has happened,” he said.
“Words fail me, words fail me. I just can’t put into words what I saw and what I witnessed.
“It is just so shocking.”
The bodies of all three deceased were removed to University Hospital Kerry, Tralee, with post mortems due to take place.
Preliminary findings indicate all three died as a result of the gunshot wounds, and the result of the post mortems will determine the course of the investigation.
Gardai say they are not looking for any other person in relation to this investigation, at this time.
While the motive is unknown at this stage, there are reports locally that Mr O’Sullivan sold all his sheep last week.
And one of the last times he was seen was at garage in nearby Abbeydorney, filling a vehicle up with diesel.
He is described as looking “haggard” and “dishevelled”.
The murder suicide is the latest in a string of similar tragedies in rural areas.
Just last month an inquest jury in Mallow, north Cork, heard how a mother’s eldest son was shot dead by her own husband and youngest son in a bitter feud over land in north Cork.
The inquest into the deaths of Tadg O’Sullivan, 60, and his two sons Mark, 26, and Diarmuid, 23, heard Tadg and Diarmuid shot Mark dead on October 26 last year, using legally-held firearms at the remote farmhouse.
Just days before, a relative had raised concerns about the O’Sullivan family, who lived just outside Kanturk, north Cork, with a local Garda.
In February this year, the bodies of brothers Johnny, Paddy and Willie Hennessy were found at a farmhouse in Curraghgorm near Mitchelstown and beside a nearby river.
Again, concerns had been raised with gardaí beforehand, and one the brothers had even been in contact with gardaí earlier in the day.
Garda had been contacted by a concerned relative the day before Johnny, 59, is understood to have killed his two brothers.
Paddy and Willie were found with severe head injuries and was later recovered from the River Funcheon.
Call for tightened firearms regulations
AdVIC, the organisation which advocates for victims of homicide, has called for tightened firearms regulations in light of recent tragedies.
The organisation’s spokesperson Joan Deane said “The news from Kerry is shocking and is a real cause for concern as it appears that a series of incidents involving firearms is potentially becoming a pattern.
“For it to happen once is already too much, so this latest tragedy highlights the obvious need to tighten firearm regulations to ensure that we do not see this happen again.
“The potential amount of private firearms in the country is simply shocking and needs to be addressed in order to prevent another senseless loss of life, particularly when you consider the multiple victims involved.”