Relatives and friends of the family of Máiréad Moran, aged 26, assistant manager at the Holland and Barrett health shop in Kilkenny, were yesterday comforting her grief-stricken parents and sisters following the violent death of the single woman on Thursday night.
It’s understood Ms Moran, who was originally from Kilmaganny in Co Kilkenny but living in the city for a number of years, was stabbed a number of times in the chest by a man who entered the shop where she was working at about 8.30pm on Thursday.
She is believed to have attempted to keep him out of the shop, using the door, but was overcome by the attack.
She fell out the doorway of the shop after her attacker fled the scene and passers-by as well as staff from other outlets in the Market Cross shopping centre came to her assistance. However, despite emergency treatment from paramedics at the scene, she was pronounced dead at St Luke’s Hospital.
Gardaí said that the man who stabbed Ms Moran had also called to the shop a short time earlier and was harassing her and had to be escorted from the premises by security personnel.
It’s understood that he shouted at her when he returned to the scene, before carrying out the fatal attack.
Gardaí recovered a knife from the scene of the murder and the area was sealed off on Thursday night and the shopping centre remained closed to the public for much of yesterday while members of the Garda Technical Bureau carried out a forensic examination.
A postmortem was also carried out on Ms Moran’s body.
It’s understood that a suspect left the vicinity of the Market Cross centre, which is just off High Street in the middle of Kilkenny, in a taxi on Thursday night.
Gardaí arrested a 27-year-old man in the house of an “associate” of his shortly afterwards and he has since been detained under section four of the Criminal Justice Act. Allowing for rest periods, he can be held by gardaí at Kilkenny station until early today before a decision must be made on whether to charge him, release him or seek an extension of the detention time. The man is originally from a different village in Co Kilkenny but had been living in the city.
Ms Moran was a single woman who worked for Holland and Barrett for a number of years. She was the daughter of Peter and Margo Moran from Kilmaganny in south-west Kilkenny and youngest sister of Colette and Michelle.
The Moran family own a grocery shop in Kilmaganny and live a short distance away, and yesterday a steady flow of neighbours and friends called to their home to offer sympathy and support. Peter Moran is a keen golfer while Margo Morgan worked for some years with the local authorities in Co Waterford.
Local councillor Matt Doran said the victim was “very quiet and a good, decent young lady” while the family were “highly respected” and popular in the area.
He described the incident as “absolutely shocking” and said people in the area were stunned by what happened.
The talk yesterday in the busy shopping streets of Kilkenny was of little but the horrific events which unfolded nearby shortly after 8.30pm on Thursday.
Normally, the Friday air would be filled with conversations on weekend plans, the weather, and the fortunes of the county’s hurlers, but this time the huddled groups in the city centre, on the footpaths and outside the shops, quietly muttered words like “shocking”, “appalling,” and “nightmare”.
All the entrances to the Market Cross shopping centre, where 26-year-old assistant manager Máiréad Moran lost her life in a brutal knife attack, were locked for much of the day as shoppers and staff were kept out of the malls while Garda forensic experts did their work.
Some who approached the gates shook their heads, others made the sign of the cross; others described their shock at the tragedy which visited the city and, particularly, Máiréad and her family, on Thursday night.
“This is dreadful, we don’t have things like that normally happening in Kilkenny,” said one woman close to the James’s St entrance to Market Cross.
At a nearby travel agents, a staff member said she knew the victim from going in and out of the Holland and Barrett shop. “She was lovely, always very polite, a lovely girl. It’s absolutely horrific.”
Her colleague described Thursday evening’s events as “horrendous, very sad”.
Anne Ryan, who runs an electrical shop nearby on High St, said the “tragic” death of Ms Moran had a profound effect on the area. “There’s an air of upset here today in the city centre. You don’t expect something like that to happen.”
She also knew Máiréad from bumping into her in the shop over the years and said she was “a beautiful young girl” and that Holland and Barrett was “a lovely shop to go into” because of its staff. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s very distressing for everybody.”
“It’s just appalling, God help the poor family,” said another woman across the street. “It could happen to anyone, but that’s the way of the world now.”
On the Chapel Lane side of the shopping centre, the tarpaulin covering the spot where Máiréad fell after being stabbed could be clearly seen through the padlocked gate, incongruous in its proximity to the shopping trolleys which on a regular Friday would be crowding the aisles in the SuperValu store located close to Holland and Barrett.
“The whole place is locked up,” a woman said as she stood down on High St with her friends mid-morning.
“The world is gone to hell.”