News of the murder of their neighbour has rocked the community of Ballincollig, as Niall Murray and Eoin English report.
The news of a violent death in their own community was a source of shock to people in Ballincollig as word of Mikolaj Wilk’s murder reached them.
Although not well known in the area, the Polish native, 35, was understood to have been a quiet man who had been running his own gardening business for a number of years.
He and his wife Elzbieta, who lost at least one finger in a likely effort to protect herself in the attack, would have celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary in just under a fortnight.
But instead, as she recovers in hospital, with their children in the care of social services last night, the local community was also coming to grips with the tragedy.
Local Fianna Fáil councillor Daithí Ó Donnabháin said what he understood of the crime was shocking and worrying.
“For an organised gang to break into a one-off country house in the middle of the night and set upon and attack an individual who then loses his life, it’s just awful,” he said.
“And God help those children, who must have at least heard what went on.
“My thoughts and sympathies go to the family and friends of the man who has lost his life.”
At late Mass at Christ Our Light Church in Ballincollig, parish priest, Fr George O’Mahony told people who might not already have heard of the incident that one person was believed to have died.
He asked the parishioners to think of the victims in their prayers, but also to pray for the gardaí and emergency services who attended the scene to be given strength and courage.
Fr O’Mahony told the Irish Examiner that news of the attack had shocked the community.
“It’s a grand quiet spot and this has left the local community in a complete state of shock,” said Fr O’Mahony.
“We remember the victim and his family in our prayers, but we will also pray for the neighbours.”
The house is just one of two in a short cul de sac off a road west of Curraheen, a 1km from the housing estates south of Ballincollig town. A small river runs between the house and the road, but its peaceful sound is almost drowned out by the busy traffic from the nearby N22 Cork-Macroom road.
It was around 3am when the silence of the night in the Wilks’ home was brutally disturbed, and three or four men broke into the couple’s home, Bridge House, in Maglin.
They are believed to have been in bed when the men broke in and used machetes to stab and hack at Mr Wilk.
One man who attended Mass at the town’s other church yesterday morning said it was shocking to hear what had happened overnight.
“I go walking out that way sometimes, there was a lovely old couple living there for years,” said the man, who did not wish to be named.
Another Mass-goer, who also did not wish to be named, said the priest at their service had spoken about the terrible violent deaths in Dublin recently.
“But now it has come to us here in Ballincollig. It’s terrible — it’s an awful world,” the woman said.
There was a promise of support from Cork’s Polish community — Ballincollig having one of the largest concentrations of Polish people outside Cork City.
Fr Piotr Galus, chaplain to Cork’s Polish community, said he will provide support to the family involved with prayers.
“But I am also standing by and am ready to meet them to provide whatever direct supports may be required in the days ahead,” said Fr Galus.
“We, as a community, will do what we can to help them.
“It is very worrying to us all that someone can’t feel safe in their own home at 3am. Those responsible for the attack had no regard for life, and no regard for the fact that there were women and children in the house.”
The Wilk home is near a busy junction, next to the end of Maglin Rd coming from Ballincollig, and the cul de sac faces another road which goes uphill towards Waterfall.
“This is a busy road; it’s a busy junction. People may have seen something, and we’re appealing to anybody that may have seen something to please contact us,” said Garda Superintendent Colm O’Sullivan.
“They may have information; it may appear to someone to be quite insignificant, but to us it could be the significant piece of the jigsaw that we need,” he said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact gardaí at Gurranabraher on 021 494 6200, the Garda Confidential Line at 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.
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