Mitchelstown killings: Hennessy family described as 'salt of the earth good people'

Mitchelstown killings: Hennessy family described as 'salt of the earth good people'

Garda cordon near Killacluig Church pic Larry Cummins

As the helicopter sprang back to life before midday, hovering around an area near the little Gradóg river that eventually finds its way into Mitchelstown, the sense of loss and disbelief was rising.

The mighty roar of the helicopter's chopping blades would soon fade, as it became apparent that they had found what they were looking for.

Around three miles from the scene of the original tragedy at Curraghgorm in the early hours, another was unfolding just after 12pm.

There are now three scenes in close proximity for gardaí to examine, between the farm where two of the Hennessy brothers were found, another unconnected farm where their missing brother's car ended up hours later, and the scene of awful finality where his life would end after the discovery of his vehicle.

Armed support gardaí zipped up at the side of the main road with solemn faces before heading into what is among the most difficult tasks within their remit - securing the off-road site from danger, and dealing with another tragedy on top of those earlier in the morning.

Assistant state pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, was due at the various scenes in the early afternoon.

The Hennessy family was described as "salt of the earth good people" by county councillor Kay Dawson.

"The family is very well respected and very well liked, never did any harm to anyone, just good hardworking people. It's truly unbelievable," she told the Irish Examiner.

The Hennessy brothers were described by shocked friends as hard-working, diligent and good to their animals, as well as enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

In a sign of the standing of the Hennessy family among their peers, Paddy Hennessy's colleagues in local business JD Tyres on the Kildorrery road in Mitchelstown spoke of a man who took his role very seriously, always professional and dedicated to his long-term craft.

"He was so calm, he was almost horizontal. He was so collected, never a bother, never a problem. When we were closed over Covid, and opened back up, he was first back in. A true gentleman, that the only way to describe him," said Michael Downey of JD Tyres.

A clearly emotionally-shook Ms Dawson said that the sense of community in the close-knit area was so strong that it would not just be immediate family that would grieve.

"There are actually no appropriate words to describe it. You just can't get your head around this happening on your own doorstep. We are all feeling the pain today."

County councillor Frank Roche told the Irish Examiner that while it is too early to establish what happened at the small family farm in the Curraghgorm parish, it is becoming all too familiar in rural Ireland.

"We had a dreadful tragedy only months ago in north Cork that is fresh in the memory, and we are here again. Surely it isn't speculation to point out that whatever the specific circumstances of this particular tragedy, mental health and other types of supports for small farmers need to be reevaluated," he said.

"Telling rural people of an older generation to ring helplines for mental health is not enough, because it is not something that they have done traditionally. We need to be looking at sending people to engage with them, not asking them through the internet to reach out. It's just not done."

Mr Roche said he personally knew of dozens of families struggling under the strain of modern life.

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