Tuesday 17 January 2017

Neighbours in quiet rural area left stunned by couple's deaths

Ryan Nugent

Published 05/11/2016 | 02:30

The scene in Co Mayo where Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald died Photo: Damien Eagers
The scene in Co Mayo where Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald died Photo: Damien Eagers

The Halloween bank holiday was just over and rural Mayo had barely got back into their daily routine, when news of the horror of all horrors began to filter through. A well-known couple were dead, with no explanation why.

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Stalwarts of the community Tom (75) and Kitty Fitzgerald (72) were both gone, their only son, Paul (37) left in a critical condition.

Tom Fitzgerald
Tom Fitzgerald

Last night, post-mortem results confirmed Tom had died of poisoning - he was found outside the home in an animal trough.

Kitty died of head wounds, consistent with a serious assault.

Despite his condition initially improving after an operation in Beaumont Hospital, Paul was again fighting for his life last night.

Paul is not a suspect. Gardaí are treating the tragedy as a murder-suicide.

Kitty Fitzgerald
Kitty Fitzgerald

Funerals have been delayed, partly in the hope he will recover in time to attend. In the village of Irishtown, there was a struggle to comprehend.

The townland of Knockadoon, where the couple's bodies were found, is quiet, a close-knit community. It is certainly not the type of place that usually becomes the focus of gardaí or the national media.

So when neighbours of the five or six houses near the Fitzgerald home saw squad cars and emergency services speeding up to the house on Tuesday afternoon, they were frightened.

One woman called her husband to come home quick - she had no idea what was going on.

The stark reality of what happened became apparent as the night wore on.

Teary-eyed locals at mass were in shock as their world turned upside down.

The descriptions of the couple were consistent.

Tom Fitzgerald was a quiet man, heavily involved in community work and a Eucharistic minister. His wife Kitty was bubbly, chatty and in the church choir.

Paul was less known - but only because he had been living in Galway for the past few years.

He was regularly around though, working as a painter and decorator with Tom.

Paul's workload had increased in recent weeks after Tom injured his leg.

With everyone in the community insisting on getting Tom to help do up their homes, he was rarely short of work.

However, following his injury, he wasn't able to do the ladder work anymore.

Now the community comes together again, taking over the funeral planning and more.

As one friend said, "they would have done the same for us".

Irish Independent

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