'There is your solicitor’s letter for you': Kanturk murder-suicide inquest hears bitter dispute over land led to violent deaths at Cork farmhouse 

'There is your solicitor’s letter for you': Kanturk murder-suicide inquest hears bitter dispute over land led to violent deaths at Cork farmhouse 

Tadg, Mark and Diarmuid O’Sullivan who died in a shooting in a remote part of Kanturk in North Cork. Picture: Gardaí

LATEST: AN inquest has heard that Mark O’Sullivan told a friend that he was afraid his brother and father would kill him and make his death look like suicide.

Mark was shot dead in his room at the family home in Assolas near Kanturk on October 26 last year, after being shot seven times. 

The inquest heard from assistant State pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster that Mark had tried to defend himself.

 The courthouse at Mallow where the inquest took place today. Picture: Larry Cummins
The courthouse at Mallow where the inquest took place today. Picture: Larry Cummins

His father Tadg and brother Diarmuid died from self inflected gunshot wounds some time later.

Verdict

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing this afternoon in the case of Mark, and ruled that Tadg and Diarmuid had taken their own lives.

A statement made to gardaí by Mark’s friend Claragh Lucey was read into evidence at this morning’s inquest.

Mark had told her of a row in the family home over a will regarding the land at Assolas, which he and Diarmuid’s mother Ann had inherited from her parents. 

Their father Tadg also had inherited land from his family and the couple had never put the holdings into joint ownership.

The lands had not become an issue until Ann received a terminal cancer diagnosis on February 28 last year.

Diarmuid had wanted to inherit the majority of the farm at Assolas but Ann had wanted to split the holding between both sons.

Tadg was on Diarmuid’s side in the row, the inquest heard.

Tension in the house resulted in Mark suffering stomach issues, according to statements read into the record made by friends of his.

He had also lost weight.

Clara Lucey confirmed to the inquest that Mark had told her on October 10 last year that he was afraid of Diarmuid and Tadg and feared that they would kill him in such a way it would look like suicide. She stressed that he was very clear he was not suicidal. 

She added: “He had no suicidal ideation.” 

The inquest heard that Anne and Mark had stayed in the home of Anne’s cousin Louise Sherlock for two weeks before returning to the family home on October 25.

In statements made to gardaí about the shooting, Anne, who died earlier this year, said that her husband and son turned to her when she saw them shooting into Mark’s bedroom. 

One of them said to her: “There is your solicitor’s letter for you”, in reference to a solicitor’s letter sent to them while she and Mark were staying with Sherlocks.

Phones destroyed and gate locked 

The statement heard that Anne O’Sullivan had tried to make calls for help but her mobile phone and the house phone were destroyed.

She also tried to leave the property by car but could not open the gate to the courtyard of the home because a new lock had been placed on the gate without her knowledge.

She had to flee to the nearby home of Jackie and Ann Cronin through a field.

Ann Cronin told gardaí that she heard one gunshot while Ann O’Sullivan was in the house.

In writings by Mark found after the shooting, he said that Diarmuid had called him a snake and a rat after finding out that their mother was not going to favour Diarmuid over Mark in her will.

Mark also wrote that he felt like a “caged animal” being prodded by “abusive captors”.

Support and helplines:

Samaritans 116 123 

Aware Helpline: 1890 303 302 

GROW 1890 474 474 

Pieta House 1800 247 247

UPDATED: MARK O’Sullivan feared for his life in the weeks before he was shot dead at his family home outside Kanturk last October, an inquest has heard.

The inquest into the deaths of Mark, his 23-year-old brother Diarmuid and their father 59-year-old Tadg at Mallow courthouse heard this morning that 26-year-old Mark died after being shot several times in his bedroom at the house in Assolas, Kanturk.

Diarmuid and Tadg both died of self-inflicted shotgun wounds.

Told friend of fears 

Mark had told a friend in Facebook messages that he feared his father and brother would murder him in the weeks before the incident, the inquest has been told.

The inquest also heard that he had slept two nights at the foot of his mother’s bed while in the family home.

The inquest follows the death of the only other member of the family, Ann, who died earlier this year. She had been spared death by her husband and youngest son, Diarmuid.

Gardai had interviewed her as the only witness in the house at the time. She fled from her home in a bid to raise the alarm. She was recovering from recent surgery at the time of the shootings.

She managed to raise the alarm when she arrived at a neighbour's house about a gun incident in her home.

The fatalities occurred just days before Diarmuid was due to graduate from Cork Institute of Technology with a first class honours degree in accounting. Mark was a graduate of UCC and was a trainee solicitor.

Two separate funerals took place for the men. Diarmuid was laid to rest in Castlemagner with his father while Mark’s funeral took place in Kanturk.

EARLIER: THE inquest of a father and his two sons, who died in a suspected murder-suicide in Kanturk, gets under way this morning.

The inquest into the deaths of Tadg O’Sullivan, 59, and sons Diarmuid, 23, and Mark, 26, will take place in Mallow courthouse.

The inquest follows the recent death of the only other member of the immediate family, Anne, who died this year after an illness. She had been spared death by her husband and youngest son, Diarmuid, after Mark was killed in his bedroom on October 26 last year.

The bodies of Tadg and Diarmuid were found some hours later in a nearby field, near a ringfort.

Gardaí also found correspondence from one of the men, which helped them to establish the sequence of events at the farm in Assolas from 6.30am on October 26.

The incident is understood to be linked to an inheritance dispute, which had been simmering in the weeks before the shootings.

Anne, who was recovering from recent surgery at the time of the shootings, managed to flee the house.

When she arrived at a neighbour’s house, she raised the alarm about a gun incident in her home.

The fatalities occurred just days before Diarmuid was due to graduate from Cork Institute of Technology with a first-class honours degree in accounting.

Mark, a graduate of University College Cork, was a trainee solicitor.

Two separate funerals took place for the men. Diarmuid was laid to rest in Castlemagner with his father, while Mark’s funeral took place in Kanturk.

  • Support and helplines: Samaritans 116123; Aware 1890 303302; Grow 1890 474474; Pieta House 1800 247247.

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