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‘Everyone is distraught’ - mother and seven-month-old son dead after a heartbreaking family tragedy

Devastated father was asleep in house and unaware of baby's death


Nicola Keane

Nicola Keane

Nicola Keane

A 34-year-old nurse is at the centre of a heartbreaking family tragedy in which she took her own life shortly after her infant son died from asphyxiation at her home in west Dublin.

Nicola Keane who worked at Children's Health Ireland in Crumlin died near the M50 toll bridge at 3.45am yesterday.

The body of her seven-month-old son Henry was discovered by gardaí at their home in Shackleton Way in Lucan around an hour later.

The infant was found in an upstairs room of the house and his death was last night still officially classified as "unexplained" by gardaí.

The results of a post-mortem examination on the child's body - which was conducted at the same hospital where his mother worked - revealed that he died from asphyxiation.

Senior sources say that the post-mortem results "have not conclusively determined" the circumstances surrounding baby Henry's death and they have not led to a definite line of enquiry.


Shackleton Way in Lucan, Co Dublin where the body of seven-month-old baby Henry was found. Photo: Mark Condren

Shackleton Way in Lucan, Co Dublin where the body of seven-month-old baby Henry was found. Photo: Mark Condren

Shackleton Way in Lucan, Co Dublin where the body of seven-month-old baby Henry was found. Photo: Mark Condren

It is understood Ms Keane had been suffering from postnatal depression in recent months. While living in Lucan in recent years, Ms Keane was originally from Ballina and her death and the terrible tragedy surrounding it has caused huge shock in the Co Mayo town.

Local Fianna Fáil Councillor Annie May Reape said: "The whole town is devastated, everyone is distraught.

"They were the most beautiful people and are thought so highly of by everyone.

"Her mother Mary was the most fabulous community spirited woman and they raised fabulous, kind girls.

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"This is the worst of tragedies. We are praying for all of them."

Last night, gardaí said that they continued to "investigate all the circumstances surrounding" the tragedy.

"The primary focus of the investigation team at this time is the preparation of an investigation file for the coroner in respect of the still unexplained death of the infant boy," a garda spokesman said.

Gardaí observed no signs of violence or any obvious evidence of a violent death when they carried out a detailed forensic examination of the property in which the body of baby Henry was discovered at around 5am yesterday.

Earlier, gardai were alerted to a woman acting suspiciously on the M50 and when they went to investigate they found Ms Keane's body on the Lower Road, Strawberry Beds, Lucan.

Gardaí investigating this terrible tragedy found that the car was registered to an address at Shackleton Way in nearby Lucan.

It is understood that when they called to the property, Ms Keane's husband was asleep and he was awoken by the officers.

Then the baby's body was discovered in an upstairs room in the house.

The devastated man had been unaware that the little child was deceased.

"An examination of the scene showed no signs of violence and nothing unusual was observed in the property when gardaí examined it," the source added.

There were no other children present in the house which is located on the outskirts of Lucan.

A post-mortem examination on Ms Keane's body is due to take place today at Dublin City Morgue.

Gardaí say that they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the tragic deaths with the infant's death being still described as "unexplained."

Yesterday garda specialists continued to examine the property on Shackleton Way while detectives carried out door-to-door enquiries.

The local Lucan community was mourning the loss of Ms Keane and her son yesterday.

A female neighbour told the Irish Independent: "I talked to her a few times.

"She was really friendly and seemed happy. Her little boy was beautiful.

"We always saw the couple walking up and down with the baby in the pram. Really they are a lovely couple.

"We are shocked. They walked up and down every day and she looked like she was in good form.

"This is the last thing we would have expected. I saw her a couple of days ago just walking the baby up and down.

"Everybody is doing that now. Walking their babies round the estate. This is a family neighbourhood."

Halloween decorations hung from doorways and plain-clothed police officers in masks went door-to-door making enquiries.

"This is a happy family," one woman said. "This doesn't happen. They were happy, you could see it.

"This is just shocking. I can't take it in. I can't stop thinking about the baby, he was just seven months old.

"It's just so sad. This is like something horrific that we would see on television. It's not like real life and it's hard for me to understand."

A male neighbour said: "I heard the news on the radio and when I realised this is the lady who passed me regularly on the street, I was just sick.

"When I saw her she'd smile, she looked so content. I just can't believe this has happened. It isn't as if there were any visible signs anything was wrong. She looked like any one of the mothers who walks up and down the street with their babies. There was nothing to lead anyone to think there was something wrong.

"This is a quiet, family neighbourhood. It's the type of place any family would want to live.

"It was only a few days ago. I saw her pushing the pram. It's hard for us to hear this happened here."

"It's too tragic. Times are hard enough. I just wish her and the baby peace.

"And I'm thinking of the father and all of their relatives," the man added.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.

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