A CLOSE friend of the pensioner forced to flee from robbers at his rural home on a bike said he had no intention of returning.
Fr Patrick Carmody, who has known Michael McMahon for more than 20 years, said he was happy in a nursing home and did not wish to go back to the family homestead.
Mr McMahon was subjected to trauma over two nights when over €7,000 in cash was taken from him.
Following the ordeal two years ago, Mr McMahon, who was 68 at the time, cycled the 30 miles to Ennis at night, booking himself into a nursing home.
He has since moved to another nursing home in Killrush where he is regularly visited by his friend.
"Sure, they're treating him like a lord there and he was never better," Fr Carmody told the Irish Independent.
Three local men, Joseph Lernihan (21) of Finnanon Park, Mullagh; Shane Donnellan (20), Clohanbeg, Cree, Kilrush; and Noel Garry (20) of Tullycrine, Kilrush; pleaded guilty at Ennis Circuit Court on Monday to the robbery of Mr McMahon at his home at Drumellihy West, Cree, on February 21 and 25, 2012.
Fr Carmody, a retired parish priest of Cooraclare, Co Clare, said his friend had resolved to stay at the nursing home in Kilrush until his money ran out.
The pair struck up a friendship when Fr Carmody came to the parish 21 years ago. But at first Mr McMahon wasn't interested.
"He actual wrote me a letter telling me there was no need to call again," he recalled.
"But then we became great friends, and it was only after a while I discovered the conditions he was living in, without electricity or running water.
"He only had a small battery-operated radio. We had looked at him getting in water and light but he was quite happy."
Fr Carmody said people in the parish had been very upset by what had happened to him and even more so because the people convicted of robbing him were local.
"We just all have to be more careful now but what I'm very surprised by is how it got out that Michael had money."
Founder of Rural Resettlement Ireland Jim Connolly blames rural depopulation for the isolation of older people.
He says the policy of successive governments, particularly in relation to planning, had exacerbated rural depopulation. "What happened in Cree is not an isolated phenomenon. It's a result of bad policy or no policy and planning is at the heart of rural depopulation," he said.