Sunday 22 September 2019

Man, 30, with 'serious grudge' is arrested in double murder case

MEDIA GLARE: Supt Kevin Donohoe briefs journalists in Listowel before yesterday's arrest
MEDIA GLARE: Supt Kevin Donohoe briefs journalists in Listowel before yesterday's arrest

MAEVE SHEEHAN, ANNE LUCEY and JIM CUSACK

A 30-YEAR-OLD man presented himself yesterday at Tralee Garda Station and was arrested at 7.30pm last night in connection with the investigation into the double murder of father and son Michael and Denis Hanrahan.

At about the same time, gardai sealed off a house at Causeway, Co Kerry, not far from the Hanrahan home outside Listowel.

It is understood the man is no relation of the deceased. However, he is believed to be known to the family. Gardai also believe that the man had a lengthy and serious personal grievance against the slain father and son.

There were unconfirmed reports that gardai also received information that a pump action shotgun had been located last night in Causeway.

Both men were shot repeatedly, with up to eight cartridges being fired. Ballistics tests on the Hanrahans' own shotgun showed that it was not the murder weapon.

It is understood that the 30-year-old single man had earlier yesterday sought medical assistance at Tralee General Hospital, though he is thought not to have been injured.

Gardai investigating the double murder at the rural farm had suspected they were shot in their beds as a result of a personal grudge harboured by someone known to the family. Michael Hanrahan, 60, and his son, Denis, 27, were still in their night clothes when their bodies were discovered in a bedroom at their home in Moyvane, near Listowel.

Michael, a dairy farmer and trusted figure who wrote the local notes for The Kerryman and the Limerick Leader, was one of "the Hanrahans of the Hill" -- the hill is a local name given to a cluster of houses of which his Seventies bungalow was the highest.

Detectives believe the killer called to their bungalow on Wednesday night, armed with a shotgun.

One theory is that Michael Hanrahan may have opened the front door to the killer, who then forced him at gunpoint into his son's bedroom where both men were shot dead. Their bodies were found on Thursday morning by a relative who called to the house after Denis failed to show up for work.

Denis was still in his bed when he was shot dead, his body slumped over the edge of the bedclothes. His father's body was on the floor of his son's bedroom.

They were shot several times and at least eight spent shotgun shells were later recovered from the house.

Preliminary investigations suggest that robbery was not a motive. Nothing was taken from the house, nor was there any sign of a forced entry.

There was no sign of a struggle in the bedroom where the two bodies were found, and it is believed Denis was seriously injured by the first shot through the bedroom door.

The killer walked into the room firing as he stood over the two. The initial wound to Denis is believed to have struck him in the torso and may also have hit his father.

When gardai arrived in the house they found a terrible scene of slaughter.

News of the shocking deaths rapidly swept through the stunned community on Thursday.

Michael Hanrahan and his family were part of the fabric of village life. He was passionate about politics. Frank Quilter, who once owned the Atlantic Hotel in Ballybunion, remembered setting up a branch of young Fine Gael in North Kerry in the Seventies with Mr Hanrahan.

"There were 10 or 15 of us starting FG in Kerry North.

"We roped in fellas who were not even from a Fine Gael background, from the Chamber of Commerce and Macra na Feirme," Mr Quilter said.

"Mike was very involved in politics to the very end. He was a very genuine character, very trusting and honest. It is very upsetting around here."

At the time, he was dating his wife, Ann, who was a nurse. They moved onto the farm just outside of Moyvane where they raised twin sons, Denis and Shane, 27, and three daughters, Kayrena, 26, Marion, 25, and Aine, 24.

Ann's death from cancer 12 years ago devastated the whole family, said friends.

Mrs Hanrahan -- described as "a lovely woman, a peacemaker" -- had been heavily involved in athletics as were all her young children.

Friends within Fine Gael noted during the week that Michael Hanrahan had changed a lot when his wife died, yet he raised his children on the 40 acres of prime land overlooking Moyvane, a bustling community, once known as Newtownsandes, which is centred around a couple of convenience stories, a butcher, a hardware store, several pubs and a post office.

Despite the early death of his wife, Michael Hanrahan remained deeply involved in community life. He was in charge of postering for each one of TD Jimmy Deenihan's election campaigns.

He helped set up the local development association in 1985 and served as its public relations officer, as well as writing the parish notes for the local newspapers. He was involved in everything from making sure the village got proper road markings to developing an arts festival.

Fr John Lucid, the parish priest of Moyvane, recalled how Michael would turn up 20 minutes early for Mass.

Shane, a civil servant in Limerick, and his father were known for their devotion to their faith. Shane helped in training altar servers and did readings at Mass.

In recent years, his family moved to other parts of the country, and Denis was the only one of the children living at home, having returned just weeks ago from his training in Cork. The 27-year-old had just qualified as a plasterer.

Though they lived alone, they had regular visitors. The other children, including twin Shane, who works in Limerick, regularly came home and friends and workmates of Denis's would also stay there.

The alarm was raised when the young man's employers contacted his uncle, who lives on a neighbouring farm, when he failed to show up for work.

Up to 70 gardai are investigating the double murder.

A neighbour from the village, poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice, called Michael Hanrahan "a pillar of the community".

Whatever has happened this was a situation of "uafás" (misfortune), the poet said, as people cried openly in the small village.

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