Sunday 22 January 2017

Natalie's last words to mum were: 'I love you, I'll be sound'

Greg Harkin

Published 06/11/2015 | 02:30

Natalie McGuinness
Natalie McGuinness
Oisin Conroy has been charged with the murder of Natalie McGuinness

The mother of tragic Natalie McGuinness has spoken for the first time of her daughter's death, saying the "life and soul" of her family has been lost.

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Natalie died nine days ago following an incident at an apartment on Mail Coach Road, Sligo.

Catherine McGuinness, originally from Limerick, says the family is still in a state of shock that their beloved, blue-eyed daughter and sister will not walk in the front door of the family home in County Sligo again.

"It is hard to believe it. It is pure devastation and shock. It is a week already," Catherine said.

The grief-stricken mother recalled the last time she spoke to the bubbly 23-year-old.

"I dropped her off on Tuesday evening. She jumped out of the car and I said, 'If you need me, ring me' and she said, 'I love you mum, I'll be sound'."

Natalie McGuinness
Natalie McGuinness

Oisin Conroy (33) from The Mews, Mail Coach Road in Sligo, has been charged with her murder.

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A court heard yesterday that he is being treated at the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum.

Oisin Conroy has been charged with the murder of Natalie McGuinness
Oisin Conroy has been charged with the murder of Natalie McGuinness

Catherine recalled how Natalie was born at Limerick's Maternity Hospital on New Year's Day, 1992 and her picture featured in the local newspaper as one of the first children born that year.

The day was extra special, she said, as she had lost her first-born in tragic circumstances.

Mourners outside the church at the funeral of childcare worker Natalie McGuinness, 23, on Saturday in her home village of Easkey
Mourners outside the church at the funeral of childcare worker Natalie McGuinness, 23, on Saturday in her home village of Easkey

"We were living on Henry Street in Limerick city. My first son, Francis, had died. He was very premature.

"We had him at home a week when he died. He is buried in the new burial ground in Limerick, so Natalie was the second born," said Catherine.

The funeral cortege of Natalie McGuinness leaving St James’ Church Easkey for Churchill Cemetery, Dromore West where she is buried
The funeral cortege of Natalie McGuinness leaving St James’ Church Easkey for Churchill Cemetery, Dromore West where she is buried

"My dad was at home washing the dishes and he heard of her birth on the news on the radio, because there was no mobile phones at that time."

The name Natalie was chosen because Catherine always loved the name of the American actress Natalie Wood.

The funeral of Natalie McGuinness at St James's Church, Easkey, Co Sligo
The funeral of Natalie McGuinness at St James's Church, Easkey, Co Sligo

"When I saw the baby, I said 'That's Natalie'," she recalled.

Natalie was never sick, "always bouncing around" as a child in the Limerick countryside.

The funeral of murder victim Natalie McGuinness at St. James's Church, Easkey, Co. Sligo.
Photo: James Connolly
31OCT15
The funeral of murder victim Natalie McGuinness at St. James's Church, Easkey, Co. Sligo. Photo: James Connolly 31OCT15

"You would hear her before you would see her," said Catherine, who moved the family to the Co Sligo village of Easkey in 2001.

"She was a 'home bird' and there was no moving out. She was superwoman - she had three jobs. We were so close, she would ring me 40 times a day," said Catherine.

"I would be sitting here with my friends and we would look at the phone and say 'Natalie' - she might only be next door but she would still have to ring to see where I was."

Natalie was very close to her siblings Jodie and Dean. She was thrilled to have become an aunt to Dean and his girlfriend Anna's baby girl, Alexis, who was born seven weeks ago.

Catherine says she is preparing herself for the weeks and months ahead when Natalie's voice and fun-loving ways will no longer fill the silence.

"I'm doing my best and trying to stay strong for Jodie and Dean. I don't want them to see me upset - they have enough to deal with."

Meanwhile, the man charged with Natalie's murder has been admitted to the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, Sligo District Court was told yesterday.

Mr Conroy could not appear as a result, said Judge Kevin Kilrane.

The judge remanded Mr Conroy in custody 'in absentia' to appear again next Friday at Harristown District Court.

Irish Independent

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