Macroom shooting: 'He was such a nice bloke, why would anyone do something so horrible, so cruel?'

Macroom shooting: 'He was such a nice bloke, why would anyone do something so horrible, so cruel?'
Suspicious Death Raleigh North Macroom: Fitzgerald Undertakers attend the scene in Raleigh North, near Macroom to remove the remains of Derry Coakley. Picture: John Delea.

Joe Leogue

The winding, hairpin, country lanes brought increased traffic off the main Cork-Killarney road up into the farmland hills of Raleigh, outside Macroom, a place that offers a spectacular vista of the Lee making its way through The Gearagh woodland.

There was little sign of the violence that took place there on Tuesday night, bar the garda presence at either end of the boreen leading to the farm where Derry Coakley was shot dead.

That traffic of outsiders soon moved onto Macroom - removed by miles from the killing, but at the epicentre of the fallout as locals talked about little else.

It was the second time the media came to cover a killing in Macroom in as many weeks.

However unlike the fatal stabbing two weeks ago - when locals expressed shock at the events, without knowing the victim who had recently moved to the town - those at the centre of this latest tragedy seemed to be known by all.

There was a palpable sense this time that the killing of Derry Coakley has shook this town to its core. This wasn’t the death of man who lived in Macroom, more so the loss of a man whose life was Macroom.

Every rural town has a Derry Coakley - described by one friend as the ‘go-to’ man when a job needed to be done.

Derry Coakley. Photo: Richard Mills.
Derry Coakley. Photo: Richard Mills.

Even those locals who didn’t know the father-of-one were more than likely able to make it to work or school on a frosty morning because he was out gritting the roads before the sunrise.

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Lifelong friends not only had to cope with the sudden loss of an ever-present cornerstone of their day-to-day lives.

Their grief was compounded as they struggled to understand how a man could be taken from them in such violent circumstances.

Glazed eyes, tinged with red, stared out into the distance beyond the huddle of reporters seeking to know more about Derry.

Martin Coughlan served on the town council for years. Standing in Macroom’s square, outside the town hall where the local authority used to meet before it was disbanded, Martin was visibly upset as he recalled his friend of over three decades.

He said if you called Derry with a problem at 10 o’clock, he was there to help at ten past.

“I don’t know what you say to you, I’m certainly in a state of shock myself and when I talk about it I get fairly emotional,” he said.

“I don’t know how to describe it, it’s a huge shock. Derry was known by everybody in town and anybody I’ve met have been in the same state of mind as me, they’re totally and utterly shocked,” he said.

Derry’s late father also worked for the council in the town, and his mother is also known as a hard worker who drove a hackney well into her eighties.

As the news sunk in, thoughts turned to Derry’s mother, who lived with her son in the centre of the town.

“Where do you go from here?” Peggy O’Callaghan, who knew Derry since childhood, asked.

What's going to happen? His mother, she just keeps coming into my head, I can see her face, the poor woman must be distraught, absolutely distraught.

Peggy said her legs were shaking under her as she tried to make sense of what happened her friend.

“Why? I mean, God he was such a nice bloke, why would anyone do something so, so horrible, so, so cruel? In this day and age anything can happen I suppose.”

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