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'Everybody is numb': Gardaí treating death of 78-year-old 'pure angel' as suspicious

By David Raleigh

Update 8.03pm: Relatives of a pensioner found dead in her Limerick home Friday, were said to be “distressed and shocked” after gardai confirmed they were treating her death as “suspicious”.

Gardai sealed off Rose Hanrahan's home at New Road, Thomondgate, and officers removed the 78-year old's car from outside her home to a garda lock-up where it will be forensically examined.

The popular widow was described by shocked neighbours as a “pure angel”.

Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

Friends said she had lived alone for the past five years following the death of her husband Mike, a former member of Limerick Civic Trust, which is responsible for conserving and preserving historic local landmarks.

Ms Hanrahan's body was discovered by a relative in the front hall of her home, at New Road, Thomondgate, around 1.30pm.

Garda sources fear she may have died violently, however they would not officially comment on speculation that signs of a break-in were discovered at the townhouse bungalow.

Officers attached to the Garda Technical Bureau were travelling from Dublin to Limerick to begin a detailed forensic examination of the interior and exterior of the deceased’s home.

A post mortem to be carried out Saturday, by the Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, will determine the course of the garda investigation into the widow’s death, gardai said.

Dr Curtis was expected to carry out a preliminary examination of Ms Hanrahan’s body at the scene, prior to conducting a full post mortem to take place at University Hospital Limerick.

Shocked by the grim news, local Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, a friend of Ms Hanrahan, said: “She was a living saint.”

“Rose and Mick were very personal friends of mine. Rose was an absolute lady. I walked down to the house tonight and everybody I met there was stunned.”

“Herself and Mick had family. She was very gentle and very welcoming. She would make me tea when I called in. Mick was a tremendous fisherman,” he added.

John Costelloe, a local Sinn Fein councillor and operating a nearby antiques shop, also paid tribute.

“I'm in shock. I knew Rose for around 30 years. She was a real lady; she would help out anybody. Everyone is numb,” he said.

“She was always so polite; she drove a small car. She had no children and she lived alone. She has one sister I believe.”

“She was a very private lady but she was very approachable too. She had the cosiest house in the neighbourhood and everything inside it was pristine.”

Mr Costelloe added: “I sold her a teapot about 15 years ago, and she still has it. She used to always say to me how much she loved it. She was a real homely person.”

“All the neighbours are in tears. It's so unfair. My thoughts and prayers are with her family,” he said.

Sinn Fein TD, Maurice Quinlivan, who also lives locally, said he had spoken to some of the deceased woman’s relatives: “They are in great distress and shock.”

Superintendent Derek Smart, who is leading the investigation, appealed for anyone with information which may help gardai in their enquiries, to contact them in confidence.

The senior officer confirmed gardai were treating the incident as a “suspicious death”.

He appealed to "anyone (who) knows anything or heard anything between (Thursday) night and (Friday) afternoon” to contact investigating gardai.

“A post mortem will be carried out by the State Pathologist and the results of this will determine the course of the Garda investigation,” Supt Smart added.

Gardai we're also actively seeking any cctv footage from nearby homes and businesses, as part of their investigation.

Earlier: Gardaí have appealed for information after the body of an elderly woman was discovered in suspicious circumstances in Limerick city today.

The body of the woman, who is aged in her late 70s, was discovered by a relative, in her home, at New Road Thomondgate, around 1.30pm.

Gardaí have sealed off the house, and said they were not releasing the deceased’s name, as they were still trying to contact all of the woman’s family members.

Superintendent Derek Smart, Henry Street Garda Station, confirmed that gardaí were investigating the “suspicious death” of a woman in Thomondgate.

Appealing for information, Supt Smart said: “If anyone knows anything or heard anything in the area between last night and this afternoon” they should contact gardaí.

Superintendent Smart confirmed the services of the State Pathologist have been requested.

“A post mortem will be carried out by the State Pathologist and the results of this will determine the course of the Garda investigation,” he said.

Superintendent Smart said officers attached to the Garda Technical Bureau, based on Dublin, were also traveling to the scene to carry out a forensic examination of the deceased’s home.

Gardaí are conducting house-to-house inquires in the area, and harvesting cctv footage from neighbouring homes and businesses, as part of their investigations.