Gardaí launch criminal investigation after double murder-suicide in Lixnaw 

Parish priest Fr Anthony O’Sullivan, who gave the family the Last Rites, said: 'I just can’t put into words what I saw and what I witnessed'
Gardaí launch criminal investigation after double murder-suicide in Lixnaw 

A Garda press conference was held in Lixnaw by Superintendent Paul Kennedy this evening. Picture: Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD. 

Gardaí have launched a criminal investigation into the suspected double murder-suicide in Co Kerry last night.

Superintendent Paul Kennedy, Listowel Garda, confirmed that gardaí had not been alerted in advance about any issues at the family.

“We have no knowledge of anybody in the days preceding this that would have contacted us directly,” he said.

“This was a very decent family who were not previously known to us.

“At the moment we don’t have motive.” 

The superintendent appealed for help from the local community.

“We have a lot of unanswered questions,” he said.

“The family are a very well respected and private family.

“We are appealing for people to come forward to help determine what happened.

“We have an open mind into the events leading up to this event and we are examing everything,” he said.  

Gardaí have said that at approximately 8.30pm, yesterday, gardaí in Listowel received a call from a neighbour and a friend of the family who discovered the bodies of Eileen O’Sullivan and her son James at their house at Kilfeighney, Lixnaw.

Gardaí at the scene of a suspected murder-suicide at Ballyreehan, Lixnaw on Tuesday night.  Picture: Domnick Walsh
Gardaí at the scene of a suspected murder-suicide at Ballyreehan, Lixnaw on Tuesday night.  Picture: Domnick Walsh

It is not known yet when they were shot but people started getting worried when they noticed the front door was open for a number of hours.

It was then they contacted the family friend who then made the discovery.

Local uniformed and plain-clothes gardaí attended the scene.

The body of 56-year-old Eileen and her 24-year-old son James were subsequently discovered in the house.

They are understood to have been found in upstairs bedrooms.

Both bodies appear to have suffered gunshot wounds, according to gardaí.

And gardaí say that in a follow-up search of the outdoor site the body of a male aged 63 was discovered at the boundary of the rear yard, also with gunshot wounds.

This man has been named locally as Morris or Mossie O’Sullivan, 63.

A firearm was recovered near his body.

Post-mortem to take place

The scene has been preserved overnight and this afternoon the Garda Technical Bureau has commenced a forensic examination, this examination is ongoing.

Dr Margot Bolster, Locum Assistant State Pathologist, has also attended the scene.

The bodies of all three persons have been removed to University Hospital Kerry, Tralee where state post mortems will take place.

The result of the post mortem will determine the course of the investigation but preliminary findings are that all three persons died as a result of the gunshot wounds.

The firearm used in the incident was legally held but the shooting happened without any obvious warning, a source said.

No Kanturk comparison

It is understood the situation is different to the recent Kanturk murder and double suicide in Co Cork.

Days before Tadg O’Sullivan and his son Diarmuid shot his brother Mark, local gardaí had been alerted by a family relative to concerns about the safety of Mark and his mother Ann.

Sources have indicated that no such alarm was raised in the build-up to last night’s double murder-suicide in Lixnaw.

Neighbours have said Mossie, a former mechanic in the local garage, was last seen in nearby Abbeydorney filling his car up with diesel. 

One person who knew him said that he had only last week put his sheep up for sale.

John Warren, whose daughter was a friend of Jamie O’Sullivan, said: “I knew Mossie to say hello to but didn’t know him all that well.

“He always struck me as a very polite and quiet man. My daughter knew Jamie and she is understandably very upset.” 

Parish priest Fr Anthony O’Sullivan, who gave the family the last rites, said people are just stunned.

Although he has dealt with families at the passing of their loved ones, he said he had never experienced a scenario like this.

Fr O’Sullivan said: “I was there. I got a call around 11.15pm and I was asked to go out and give them the Last Rites.

There is a numbness and an unreality about all this, and utter disbelief that this has happened.

“Words fail me, words fail me. I just can’t put into words what I saw and what I witnessed. It is just so shocking.

“I’ve only been here two years and the pandemic hasn’t made it easy to meet people.

“But I would know them, they are a local family, and I met one of them briefly early on in my start here.

“You hear about this sort of thing, but you never expect it to happen on your own doorstep.

“This is just so awful.

“To tell you the truth, I just can’t take it in.”

An Garda Síochána is not looking for any other person in relation to this investigation, at this time.

A Family Liaison Officer has been appointed to the extended families of the deceased and An Garda Síochána will support the families during this personal tragedy for them. 

An Garda Síochána has appealed for privacy for the family at this time.

An Garda Síochána is also conscious of the severe impact this incident has had on the tight-knit community in Kerry and are appealing to this community or any other persons who may have any information in relation to the tragic events in Kilfeighney, Lixnaw to contact investigating gardaí at Listowel Garda Station on 068 50820, the Garda Confidential Number 1800 666.

Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email:

Women's Aid can be contacted on their 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900

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