Horror as 'pure angel' (78) found dead in her hallway
Gardai are investigating the "suspicious" death of a pensioner who was found dead in the hallway of her home.
Relatives of Rose Hanrahan were said to be "distressed and shocked" after gardai confirmed they were treating her death as suspicious.
Gardai sealed off her home at New Road, Thomondgate, Co Limerick, yesterday.
Officers removed the 78-year-old's car from outside to a garda lock-up, where it will be forensically examined.
The popular widow was described by shocked neighbours as a "pure angel".
Friends said she had lived alone for the past five years following the death of her husband, Mike, a former member of Limerick Civic Trust, which is responsible for conserving and preserving historic local landmarks.
Ms Hanrahan's body was discovered by a relative in the front hall at around 1.30pm.
Garda sources fear she may have died violently. However, they would not officially comment on speculation that signs of a break-in were discovered at the townhouse bungalow.
Officers attached to the Garda Technical Bureau were travelling from Dublin to Limerick to begin a detailed forensic examination of the interior and exterior of the home.
A post-mortem will be carried out today by the Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, who will determine the course of the investigation into the widow's death, gardai said.
Shocked by the grim news, local Fianna Fail TD Willie O'Dea, a friend of Ms Hanrahan, said: "She was a living saint."
"Rose and Mick were very personal friends of mine. Rose was an absolute lady. I walked down to the house tonight and everybody I met there was stunned," he said.
"Herself and Mick had family. She was very gentle and very welcoming. She would make me tea when I called in. Mick was a tremendous fisherman."
Sinn Fein councillor John Costelloe, who runs a nearby antiques shop, also paid tribute.
"I'm in shock. I knew Rose for around 30 years. She was a real lady, she would help out anybody. Everyone is numb," he said.
"She was always so polite. She drove a small car. She had no children and she lived alone. She has one sister, I believe.
"She was a very private lady but she was very approachable, too. She had the cosiest house in the neighbourhood and everything inside it was pristine.
"I sold her a teapot about 15 years ago, and she still has it. She used to always say to me how much she loved it. She was a real homely person.
"All the neighbours are in tears. It's so unfair.
"My thoughts and prayers are with her family."
Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan, who also lives locally, said he had spoken to some of the deceased woman's relatives.
"They are in great distress and shock," he said.
Superintendent Derek Smart, who is leading the investigation, appealed for anyone with information which may help gardai in their inquiries to contact them in confidence.
The senior officer confirmed gardai were treating the incident as a "suspicious death".
He appealed to "anyone who knows anything or heard anything between [Thursday] night and [Friday] afternoon" to contact investigating gardai.
"A post-mortem will be carried out by the State Pathologist and the results of this will determine the course of the Garda investigation," Supt Smart added.
Gardai were also actively seeking any CCTV footage from nearby homes and businesses, as part of their investigation.