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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Renowned author was 'seriously ill' before she was found dead in her Irish flat

Tom Shiel

Published 08/05/2014 | 16:33

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The late author Marsha Mehran
The late author Marsha Mehran

BESTSELLING international author Marsha Mehran appeared to have been seriously ill for weeks before her body was found in her Irish apartment.

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Ms Mehran’s remains were discovered earlier this month at her rented home at Lecanvey, Westport, Co Mayo, which appeared to be in a chaotic state.

It is believed that Ms Mehran, an Iranian-American, had been dead for more than a week in the seaside village before she was found.

The 36-year-old was best-known for her works including the international bestsellers 'Pomegranate Soup' and 'Rosewater And Soda Bread'.

An inquest into her death in Castlebar, Co Mayo yesterday heard from estate agent Teresa Walsh.

She told the brief hearing that the 36-year-old had informed her by text on April 12 that she had been “vomiting for the last few weeks”.

Ms Mehran had signed a lease on a property at Pier Road, Lecanvey, in early January.

Her apparent purpose in moving alone to the quiet, seaside, village was to work on a book ‘The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty’ which the Iranian-born author set in Buenos Aires during the Falklands War.

Mrs Walsh, the letting agent, said she became seriously concerned when she could not contact the writer after being informed she was ill. She text back to ask her if she had been to a doctor and was there anything she could do for her. However, she got no reply.

After numerous phone calls between April 12 and April 21 had elicited no reply, the letting agent then called to the premises on three occasions.

On the final occasion, April 30, she banged on doors and windows. After failing to get a reply, she gained entry and found the writer face down on the floor wearing only a woollen cardigan.

The letting agent then called the gardai.

“Any time I called to the house it was generally messy,” said Mrs Walsh in a statement read to yesterday’s brief hearing, which was adjourned by Coroner John O’Dwyer.

“She appeared to have thrown herself fully into writing,” the statement continued.

Abbas Mehran, the father of the dead writer, told the inquest that when his daughter was deeply immersed in her writing she did not care about herself.

There was little food in her house apart from huge bowls of pasta and noodles “so she could work and work”.

The hearing was told that Ms Mehran’s garbage can was full of empty packaging for large chocolate bars, her usual energy source for writing a book.

Ms Mehran’s Co Mayo-born ex-husband, John Collins, whom she met while he was a bartender in New York, attended the inquest.

He told the Coroner there was “definitely something medically wrong” with Ms Mehran.

The Coroner described it as a tragedy for the writer to have died all alone. He added: “She lived the way she wanted to live”.

Pathologist Dr Tiede Nemeth, who carried out a post mortem, said he had not been able to establish the cause of death and the results of toxicology tests were awaited.

Yesterday’s inquest means that Ms Mehran’s remains can be released from Mayo General Hospital for cremation.

Afterward, the writer’s divorced husband, Mr Collins, said the ashes would be flown to Australia. He said that although he had not seen Marsha since 2011 they had remained “good friends”.

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