Gardaí appeal for information on violent North Cork tragedy that left three brothers dead

The men have been named locally as Paddy, Willie and John Hennessy
Gardaí appeal for information on violent North Cork tragedy that left three brothers dead

Willie Hennessey pictured with his local GAA club Ballygiblin in 1979; Paddy (Pat) Hennessey pictured with his local GAA club Ballygiblin in 1984. Pictures: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Gardaí have appealed for help from the public as they attempt to piece together the circumstances that left three brothers dead in a violent tragedy in North Cork.

Garda press office superintendent Liam Geraghty told assembled media outside Mitchelstown garda station that information that may seem insignificant to those who had observed anything in the run-up to the deaths in the heart of rural North Cork could be key to investigators.

"Let gardaí be the judge of what may or may not be significant," he said, as he asked potential witnesses to contact Mitchelstown and Fermoy stations on 025 84833 and 025 82100 respectively.

While the investigation is in its early stages, gardaí do not believe that firearms were involved in how two of the brothers met their death. 

The men have not been named officially, but have been named locally as Paddy Hennessy, who was just short of 61, Willie Hennessy, who was 66, and Johnny Hennessy, who was 59.

Initially, a male in his early 60s was discovered deceased in a farmyard at Curraghgorm, Mitchelstown and in a follow-up search, a second male was discovered deceased in a shed. The men are related, gardaí confirmed.

Gardaí at the scene near Killacluig church, North Cork this morning. Picture: Larry Cummins

Gardaí at the scene near Killacluig church, North Cork this morning. Picture: Larry Cummins

A search for a third male, also related, began and a van connected to him was later located at an unconnected farmhouse in Killacluig, which is a few kilometres away in the direction of Mitchelstown. That car was removed from the scene for forensic examination.

In excess of 50 garda personnel were involved in the operation, Superintendent Geraghty confirmed.

At approximately midday, the garda air support unit observed the body of a male in a rural location on the River Funchion nearby.

The water unit has recovered that body which was removed to CUH by the evening, and a number of scenes remain preserved to undergo technical examination, he said.

The bodies of the two males found in the farm remained at the scene until assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster conducted her examination. 

They were removed later in the evening, with a post mortem due to take place on Saturday.

Earlier: Gardaí investigating murder of two brothers in north Cork find third body in river

A number of checkpoints were set up in the area and the services of the garda air support units were requested to assist in the search for the van. Picture: Larry Cummins

A number of checkpoints were set up in the area and the services of the garda air support units were requested to assist in the search for the van. Picture: Larry Cummins

The Gardaí have discovered the body of a third man, believed to be the sibling of two brothers who were brutally murdered in north Cork.

The dead brothers have been named locally as members of the Hennessy family, known locally as the 'Saint' Hennessys.

The bodies of the two elderly brothers had been discovered on a farm near Mitchelstown overnight.

Gardaí immediately began searching for the men's brother and issued an appeal for information on a Red Toyota Corolla carvan, 03 WW 1556. It was found this morning parked at an unconnected farmhouse at Killacluig, Mitchelstown.

Gardaí have now confirmed that the body of a man has been found in a river in a remote location nearby which they are working to formally identify.

It is believed the two men whose bodies were found at the farm were killed with the same implement, possibly an axe.

The alarm had been raised at about 12.30am when the daughter of one of the men contacted gardaí to say that her father had been killed.

Two other brothers associated with the farm were unaccounted for at the time.

Gardaí initially treated the incident as a potential hostage barricade suicide (HBS) incident and a major operation was launched.

Gardaí have now confirmed that the body of a man has been found in a river in a remote location nearby which they are working to formally identify. Picture: Larry Cummins

Gardaí have now confirmed that the body of a man has been found in a river in a remote location nearby which they are working to formally identify. Picture: Larry Cummins

Members of the armed support units (ASU) from Cork and Limerick and a garda negotiator were dispatched to the scene, an on-scene-commander was appointed and a cordon was thrown around the isolated property.

The armed garda units were later joined by ASU members from Cahir.

A decision was taken to commit armed members of the gardaí to search the property, which contains a number of outbuildings.

They found the body of one of the men in a yard near the farmhouse.

He is in his 60s and lives in Tipperary.

The gardaí continued searching outbuildings and they found the body of a second brother in a barn.

He is also in his 60s.

Gardaí have now located a red Toyota Corolla van, registration 03-WW-1556 for which they had issued an urgent appeal. Picture: Larry CUmmins

Gardaí have now located a red Toyota Corolla van, registration 03-WW-1556 for which they had issued an urgent appeal. Picture: Larry CUmmins

But when it became clear that a third brother was not on the property the HBS incident was stood down and a search operation was launched.

Gardaí later issued an appeal to trace a red Toyota Corolla van, registration 03-WW-1556.

A number of checkpoints were set up in the area and the services of the garda air support units were requested to assist in the search for the van.

They asked members of the public who had seen the van not to approach it and to contact gardaí. 

Just after 10am they confirmed the car had been found.

The farm and the property remain sealed off this morning.

 Garda helicopter overhead at the scene where the third body was found after a manhunt in North Cork this morning. Picture: Larry Cummins

Garda helicopter overhead at the scene where the third body was found after a manhunt in North Cork this morning. Picture: Larry Cummins

The services of the office of the state pathologist have been requested and the bodies are expected to be examined on the scene later this morning.

The bodies will be removed to Cork University Hospital later for a full post-mortem examination which gardai say will determine the course of the investigation.

But all the circumstances point to the launching later today of a double murder enquiry.

Gardaí have appealed to anyone with information on the incidents that occurred last night to contact investigating officers at Mitchelstown Garda Station 025 84833, the Garda Confidential Number 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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