herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Community left reeling after bodies of much-loved couple found at home after 'assault'

Gardai at the scene late last night
Gardai at the scene late last night

Gardai are investigating after the bodies of an elderly married couple were discovered in their home following a suspected assault.

Retired couple Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald were found yesterday afternoon in Knockadoon, just outside the village of Irishtown in Co Mayo.

Their son, aged in his 30s, was found at the scene with serious head injuries.

A garda investigation is now under way to determine how the couple died, but sources said they both sustained severe injuries consistent with a violent assault.

Mr Fitzgerald, who was in his 70s, and his wife, who was in her 60s, were well-known and well-liked in the local community.

Parish Priest Fr Martin O’Connor, who paid tribute to the couple
Parish Priest Fr Martin O’Connor, who paid tribute to the couple

Secluded

Mr Fitzgerald worked as a painting and decorating contractor before he retired.

The couple were described as "community stalwarts" by shocked locals last night.

Ambulance personnel and gardai rushed to the couple's bungalow, which is located in a secluded spot about a mile from Irishtown village, shortly after 3pm

However, both were pronounced dead at the scene. Their son was found by emergency services and was rushed by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood he was later transferred to a hospital in Dublin.

Both bodies were still at the scene last night as authorities awaited the arrival of a state pathologist.

Gardai were unwilling to comment on the exact circumstances of the deaths, but one did say that "it's far too early to draw definite conclusions".

Shocked neighbours described the couple as "generous and community-minded".

Joe Reapy, of Davitts GAA Club, said: "Tom had a great spirit when it came to community matters. If anything was going on he was sure to have a hand in it. It's shocking hard to believe this lovely couple are gone.

"I would see them every week. It was always great to meet them."

A meeting of Davitts GAA Club which was due to be held last night was cancelled as a mark of respect.

Parish priest Fr Martin O'Connor said the community was "numbed".

"It's the biggest tragedy to have hit the area. Tom was a eucharistic minister for years. He was very heavily involved in the community with Foroige and the football club," he said.

"Anything that was for the betterment of the community, Tom was all for it.

"Both of them were lovely people to meet. You always felt better for it if you had a conversation with them."

Pat McHugh, a former county councillor in the area, said: "Tom was a nice man and good company. He was involved in the GAA and the church. Often at Mass he served as a minister of the eucharist. Kitty too was a good, kind person. She had a nice word for everyone.

"They were lovely people to call on at any time."

A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "Kitty was the life and soul of every occasion. She could walk a 5k as fast as anyone else.

"Kitty sang in the choir with us for years and Tom was highly involved with community groups."

Gardai from Claremorris and Castlebar were at the scene last night and are both involved in the investigation.

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