A mother was taunted immediately after her eldest son was shot dead by her husband and youngest son in a bitter feud over land that devastated a North Cork community.
An inquest into the deaths of Tadg O'Sullivan, 60, and his two sons Mark, 26, and Diarmuid, 23, heard how their mother Anne O’Sullivan had been forced to seek legal advice in the weeks before the murder-suicide that claimed the lives of all three men.
Tadg and his youngest son Diarmuid shot Mark dead in his bedroom in the early hours on October 26 last year, using legally-held firearms at the remote farmhouse.
Anne, the legal owner of the farm, had wanted to leave it to her eldest son Mark, as she was dying from cancer. She passed away in April.
The jury heard that before the shootings, Diarmuid, 23, had threatened to leave a “trail of destruction'' behind him.
He said he would do this if he didn’t inherit the "lion’s share” of a 115-acre farm.
Both he and his father Tadg had been pressuring Anne to give the bulk of the farm at Raheen, near Kanturk, in north Co Cork, to Diarmuid.
This led to a string of bitter rows and “screaming matches”, including one where Anne recalled Tadg’s “red face” and “bulging eyes”.
The jury in Mallow Coroner’s Court also heard how Diarmuid had threatened to kill himself if she didn’t give him the land.
Tadg had also threatened to take his own life if his youngest son didn’t get his way.
Mark, in a letter found after his death, said: “My brother threatened to leave a trail of destruction behind them, and that there would be no lights on in Raheen ever again.”
The jury was told Anne, 61, had been woken by gunfire outside Mark’s bedroom in the farmhouse at around 6am.
Both men looked at her, then looked back into the room and fired another shot into it.
Neighbour Anne Cronin told the court: “They shot Mark again, then one of them turned around, and said ‘There’s your solicitor’s letter for you’ or words to that effect.”
The distraught mother had told Ms Cronin in the immediate aftermath of the shootings that they had killed Mark "to make her suffer”.
The incident by the door in which the solicitor's letter was mentioned came up when Anne O'Sullivan was in the Cronin’s house and in shock at what she had just witnessed.
Ms Cronin recalled she had her head in her hands at one point.
“Anne kept on asking why they didn't leave Mark alone,” she recalled.
Margaret Bolster, the assistant state pathologist, said Mark had been found lying on the floor of his bedroom.
He had received gunshots to his head, chest and arm.
A wound to his arm was, in her view, a defensive wound.
She found that Tadg and Diarmuid died from gunshot wounds in a double suicide after the murder.
Toxicology results showed that neither drink or drugs played any part in the deaths.
The jury later recommended that protocols be put in place where concerns for a person's safety are raised by third parties.
Mark O’Sullivan had feared that his brother and father were going to murder him and make it look like suicide.
He was so concerned he even wrote a two-page letter, expressing his fears, and placed it in a bag where his mother Anne kept her medicine.