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Cork tragedy: Hennessy brothers nicknamed ‘The Saints’ were bludgeoned to death in suspected double murder-suicide

  • Three brothers lose their lives in family tragedy
  • Third body discovered following manhunt this morning
  • Bodies of two brothers discovered at Cork property overnight, gardaí launched double murder investigation
  • ‘You can’t make anything of it because it just doesn’t make sense’ – locals express shock

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The late Paddy (Pat) Henessey pictured with his local GAA club Ballygiblin in 1984.
Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The late Paddy (Pat) Henessey pictured with his local GAA club Ballygiblin in 1984. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The late Paddy (Pat) Henessey pictured with his local GAA club Ballygiblin in 1984. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Three brothers nicknamed 'The Saints' who died in an horrific suspected double murder-suicide have been named locally as Willie (66), Paddy 'Pa' (60) and John (59) Hennessy from Corragorm, just outside Mitchelstown.

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

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

Detectives fear that the double murder-suicide involving the Hennessy brothers 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.

Pa had only 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.

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Gardai pictured at the farm off the Mitchelstown to Mallow Road outside Kildorrery, co. Cork where the bodies of two brothers in their 60s were discovered. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Gardai pictured at the farm off the Mitchelstown to Mallow Road outside Kildorrery, co. Cork where the bodies of two brothers in their 60s were discovered. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Gardai pictured at the farm off the Mitchelstown to Mallow Road outside Kildorrery, co. Cork where the bodies of two brothers in their 60s were discovered. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The bodies of Paddy 'Pa' and Willie Hennessy were discovered at their Corragorm farm some 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).

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 - some 4km from the farmhouse - around 9am.

A massive search of the local countryside some 10km outside Mitchelstown was commenced to locate him with the search being supported by uniformed Gardaí, Garda dog units and the Garda helicopter.

Shortly after 12 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 with all three bodies later being removed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for post mortem examinations which will take place on Friday.

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.

"Gardai 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 has been recovered as yet.

"Gardai 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 together at the Corragorm farm while Pa lived in nearby 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 the supports being offered to people in rural Ireland.

"My phone is constantly ringing with people in rural areas pleading for help with stress, money worries or mental health issues," he said.

Fine Gael Councillor Kay Dawson lives near where the farmhouse is situated and described the brothers as “genuine, quiet and gentle people,” while speaking on RTÉ News at One.

“You can’t make anything of it because it just doesn’t make sense.

"Normally when you listen to the news it’s someplace else, but this is our own community devastated by this tragedy this morning. I don't have the language to put the words on the sensation. Unbelievable I think is the best way to describe it.

“It’s a tight, close-knit community, a hard-working community and we are devastated,” she continued.

“They were salt of the earth, just got on with their daily lives.

“They interacted well. They were genuine, quiet, gentle people. It’s just unbelievable to wake up today to hear that they are no longer with us. I am stuck for words and I normally wouldn’t be. It’s a tragedy beyond belief and our understanding.

Councillor Dawson said the brothers were well known due to their timber business which they operated out of the farmhouse.

“They would have been heavily engaged with lots of people, they travelled selling their timber. They were by no means isolated or remote,” Ms Dawson said.

The remains of all three men will be transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for full post mortem examinations after The Office of the State Pathologist has examined the scenes.

Belfast Telegraph


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