Belfast Telegraph

Murdered pensioner's daughter still gets flashbacks 10 years on

The family of murdered Maire Rankin outside court in 2015. From left, her daughters Aine Brodie and Mairead McElkerney, son-in-law Paul McElkerney, and daughters Emily Rankin and Dympna Lambert
The family of murdered Maire Rankin outside court in 2015. From left, her daughters Aine Brodie and Mairead McElkerney, son-in-law Paul McElkerney, and daughters Emily Rankin and Dympna Lambert
Maire Rankin
The crucifix that was used as a murder weapon
Karen Walsh who was jailed for at least 20 years for murdering Maire Rankin using a crucifix
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

The daughter of a Newry pensioner murdered at Christmas 10 years ago says she is still saddened by the fact her mother never lived to meet her great-grandchildren.

Maire Rankin (81), was killed with a crucifix in her home and then sexually assaulted after saying her bedtime prayers in the early hours of Christmas Day 2008.

Mrs Rankin was found dead in her Dublin Road home on Christmas morning after being subjected to a sustained assault which left her with a serious head injury and 15 broken ribs.

Her next door neighbour, Dublin pharmacist Karen Walsh (then 45) was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in jail after a 10-day murder trial. She will not be eligible for parole until she is herself a pensioner.

A decade on, Maire's daughter Brenda, one of eight siblings, told the Newry Reporter this week that flashbacks are still a regular occurrence, particularly over the Christmas period.

"It's always difficult coming up to Christmas time," she told the newspaper. "I thought back then I would never get over what happened. I have done my best to move on and be as strong as possible with the help of family and friends.

"There are, of course, flashbacks to those dark days after the murder in December 2008."

Maire Rankin had planned to spend Christmas Day with her daughter Brenda's family in Loughbrickland in Londonderry.

However, she had been sick with a chest infection and insisted she wanted to stay in her own bed on Christmas Eve.

Brenda told the Newry Reporter that it is family togetherness that has helped them all get through the traumatic experience. She said they prefer to remember the way she lived, not how she died.

She added: "We all miss mummy very much, but life has gone on in our family. Over the past year alone there have been two family weddings and four births, times when we have come together as a family to celebrate happy events.

"There has been a lot of joy and laughter.

"These occasions remind me of what our family life was like growing up. I was blessed to be raised in a house full of love and laughter.

"I think it's a great tribute to both my parents that our family has survived this tragedy and found the courage and strength to carry on.

"As I look back on old photographs over the past year there are a lot of smiling faces and real happiness.

"Of course we miss both our parents and it's particularly sad that mummy did not live to see any of her seven great grandchildren.

"But it's important to all of us that we pass on the lovely memories of mummy and daddy to their grandchildren and great grandchildren, keeping their spirit alive in a positive way.

"For us it's more important to celebrate the way mummy lived her life rather that dwell on the way she died."

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