Sunday 20 October 2019

Murder mystery hits Golden Vale after grim find in slurry tank

Early stage of garda probe focusing on man said to be obsessed with victim Bobby Ryan's partner

Story by Barry Duggan 02-05-2013
Garda Forensics examining the slurry tank where the body of Bobby Ryan was discovered at the back of farm in Fawnagown outside Tipperary town.
Picture Credit: Brian Gavin Press 22
Story by Barry Duggan 02-05-2013 Garda Forensics examining the slurry tank where the body of Bobby Ryan was discovered at the back of farm in Fawnagown outside Tipperary town. Picture Credit: Brian Gavin Press 22

Barry Duggan

THE gruesome discovery of a murdered man, who had been missing for almost two years, in a disused slurry tank in the heart of Golden Vale country has resulted in an even greater mystery.

Gardai are this weekend continuing their painstaking investigation into the violent death of Bobby Ryan (52), who until last Tuesday was another member on the country's missing persons list.

The separated father of two left his partner, Mary Lowry, at her home in Fawnagown, Co Tipperary, just after 6am on the Friday morning of the 2011 June bank holiday weekend. Mr Ryan was due to drive to work to Killough quarry near Thurles but never arrived and his family were alerted. Michelle Ryan found her father's abandoned Citroen van in Bansha Woods a few hours later.

Gardai and volunteers combed the entire region for months and emotional appeals were made. His disappearance left all stunned and mystified but the Ryan family always insisted the loving grandfather didn't walk away from them. However, none of the searchers realised there was a second underground slurry tank at the rear of Mary Lowry's home.

Ms Lowry's husband, Martin, died of cancer in 2007 and the holding was subsequently leased out to farmer, Pat Quirke. Gardai were alerted after Mr Quirke made the grim discovery on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Quirke did not want to comment on what he found under the concrete slab and undergrowth and the Ryan family say they are relieved they can now give Bobby a final resting place. However, John Ryan – a brother of the slain man – insists that only half the battle has been fought. Whoever is responsible for Bobby's murder will have to be held accountable and justice will be sought.

Bobby Ryan worked as a part-time DJ at weekends and was known across Tipperary by his stage name, Mr Moonlight. His van was emblazoned with the logo. Michelle said her father was the life and soul of every party.

"He was never in bad humour. If you were in bad humour yourself, you would ring him as he was a pure tonic. Young and old used to have great craic with him. He'd be off out dancing with them then," she said.

Ms Lowry, a widow with three young sons, and Mr Ryan started seeing each other in late 2008 and they would spend nights at her house or at his home in Boherlahan until the fateful morning when he left her front door and was never seen again.

While garda investigations are at an early stage, one man, who was said to be obsessed with Ms Lowry and jealous of her relationship with the victim, is already seen as central to the probe. Before Bobby Ryan disappeared, he was warned to stay away from Ms Lowry by the same man.

While posters seeking information on the missing man were erected across the region in 2011 and the family made emotional appeals, Ms Lowry found herself the next target of criminal activity.

Her home, which she shares with her mother-in-law Rita, was broken into on a number of occasions. Amid security fears, a CCTV system was secretly installed after the first burglary and the house along the Tipperary-Bansha road was hit again. On March 15 last, it was broken into while Ms Lowry and her family were at her father's funeral. Gardai suspect that the jealous stalker is responsible for one of the break-ins.

The farm at Fawnagown remained sealed off throughout last week as officers slowly emptied the slurry tank and sifted through the sludge and dirty water for any vital evidence. The murder investigation is set to be a lengthy one and the gardai's next appeals will relate to whoever put Bobby Ryan into the dark tank.

Until last Tuesday, the general talk in Tipperary was of the hurling championship, the price of fodder and property tax. Now the hushed topic on everyone's lips is Bobby Ryan and who may have murdered him. As of yet, there are no definite answers to the dark secrets which remain hidden in the Golden Vale.

Irish Independent

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