herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Abandoned, the eerie home of tragic Rachel

SILENT: Murder bungalow is left to go to rack and ruin

The house where Rachel O'Reilly was murdered is overgrown and decaying.

The property has become run down in the six years since the mum of two was bludgeoned to death by her husband Joe.

With the grass growing long and wild, and the once manicured hedges sprouting high shoots, the property is an eerie and silent reminder of the horrific violence that was perpetrated there on October 4, 2004.

Although empty since O'Reilly's conviction for murdering his wife, the house in the Naul, north county Dublin, was periodically maintained by contractors who used to mow the grass and trim the hedges.

But now the house on the quiet and picturesque hillside appears to have gone to rack and ruin.

Since the killer's appeal failed, the house and gardens are now untouched.

With the grass growing like a meadow and the hedges out of control, the sight is worlds away from the busy, bustling bungalow from where Rachel was rearing her two young sons when her life was snatched away.

Behind the house the decking is being attacked unchecked by the elements, and the gravel driveway is now overgrown.

A stout chain and lock secure the crumbling front gates together, and two lamps either side of the front door have been removed, leaving just their raw electric cables sticking out of the wall.

Before Rachel's murder, the house was just an ordinary bungalow, like the others that are scattered across the hillside, looking over the picturesque valley.

But the O'Reilly house is now forever burned into our consciousness as the building where a husband took the life of his wife and mother to his two children.

A film of dust and cobwebs covers the porch door. Spiders have taken over the letterbox where no mail is delivered any more.

It was on October 4, 2004, that Joe returned to this house to bludgeon Rachel to death after she got home from the school-run to drop off her two sons.

He then fled the house, throwing small items and personal effects into the hedges along the roadway to make his crime look like a burglary.

And he ensured that it would be Rachel's own mother Rose who would discover her body, by ringing her after he was contacted by their son's schools saying they had not been collected.

That evening the image of the bungalow was beamed to every television in the country, and the next day it was in every newspaper and everyone's minds.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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