Friday 28 April 2017

'She was bubbly and vibrant and always brought a smile to all her friends' - Community shocked as bodies of married couple discovered in home

Gardai at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered. Credit: Steve Humphreys
Gardai at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered. Credit: Steve Humphreys
Gardai at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered. Credit: Steve Humphreys
The scene at Irishtown in Mayo tonight. Photo: Paul Mealey

Independent.ie Newsdesk & Ryan Nugent

Gardai are investigating after the bodies of an elderly married couple were discovered in their home while their son was found nearby with head injuries.

Retired couple Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald were found dead yesterday afternoon in Knockadoon, just outside the small village of Irishtown in Co Mayo.

Their son Paul, aged in his 30s, was found at the scene with serious head injuries and was transferred from Galway to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin last night.

A garda investigation is now under way to determine how the couple died, but sources said they both sustained severe injuries consistent with a violent assault.

Gardai at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered.
PIc Steve Humphreys
2nd November 2016
Gardai at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered. PIc Steve Humphreys 2nd November 2016
Gardai at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered. PIc Steve Humphreys 2nd November 2016
Gardai at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered. PIc Steve Humphreys 2nd November 2016
Gardai at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered. PIc Steve Humphreys 2nd November 2016
Gardai at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered. PIc Steve Humphreys 2nd November 2016

The bodies remained at the scene this morning as a forensics team arrived, while Assistant State Pathologist Marie Cassidy was due to arrive at the rural property this afternoon.

It is not yet known if the bodies of the elderly couple will be released this evening or tomorrow morning.

Tom, who was in his 70s, and his wife Kitty, who was in her 60s, were well known and well liked in the local community.

He worked as a painting and decorating contractor before he retired and both were described as "community stalwarts" by shocked locals last night. Their son lived with the couple.

Ambulance personnel and garda officers rushed to the couple's bungalow, which is located in a secluded spot about a mile from Irishtown, after getting a call about 3pm.

Emergency

However, both Tom and Kitty were pronounced dead at the scene.

Their son was discovered by emergency services and rushed by ambulance to University Hospital Galway. He was later transferred to a hospital in Dublin.

Both bodies were still at the scene last night as authorities awaited a State pathologist.

Chief Superintendent Pat Diskin, from Castlebar Garda Station, said: "I can tell you that at 3pm today gardai received a call of an incident at Knockadoon. When we arrived at the scene, gardai discovered the bodies of a male and a female.

"They also discovered a third person that had serious injuries. That third person has been transferred to hospital where he is receiving treatment.

"I'm appealing to the local community in particular if they saw anything suspicious between Sunday night and 3pm this evening."

Fr Martin O'Connor from Irishtown parish Picture: Steve Humphreys
Fr Martin O'Connor from Irishtown parish Picture: Steve Humphreys

Neighbours described the couple as "generous and community-minded".

Joe Reapy, of the local Davitts GAA club, said: "Tom had a great spirit when it came to community matters. If anything was going on Tom was sure to have a hand in it.

"It's shocking hard to believe this lovely couple are gone."

A meeting of the GAA club, which was due to be held last night, was cancelled as a mark of respect.

Parish priest in the Church of the Holy Family and St Oliver, Fr Martin O'Connor, said the community was numbed by the shock. He said: "It is the biggest tragedy to have hit the area.

"Tom was a eucharistic minister for years. He was very heavily involved in the community with Foróige and the football club. Anything that was for the betterment of the community Tom was all for it.

"Both of them were lovely people to meet. You always felt better for it if you had a conversation with them."

Pat McHugh, a former county councillor in the area, said: "Tom was a nice man and good company.

"He was involved in the GAA and the church. Often at Mass he served as a minister of the eucharist.

"Kitty too was a good, kind person. She had a nice word for everyone. They were lovely people to call on at any time."

Neighbour Greta McManus said: "We re-opened the shop and Tom came in to wish me good luck.

"Kitty was full of heart and words cannot describe how we are feeling."

Mayo journalist Michael Commins described Tom as someone who was “passionate” and “the heart and soul of the community”.

“He served as chairman of the Community Council for several years. He was a passionate supporter of Mayo and he played a central role in the local Davitts GAA Club over the last few decades," he told Newstalk Breakfast.

“He was involved in everything. He was also Eucharistic minister in the local church.

“He was the heart and soul of the community life of Irishtown."

Mr Commins said Kitty was also very involved in the local community.

“She was bubbly and vibrant and always brought a smile to all her friends. When Kitty arrived for choir practice, she always managed to raise the spirits.”

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