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Saturday 20 January 2018

Murder-suicide couple to be laid to rest side by side following joint funeral Mass

Forensic experts examine the scene at Hackballscross, Co Louth, where Marie Quigley was found dead. Photo: Stephen Collins
Forensic experts examine the scene at Hackballscross, Co Louth, where Marie Quigley was found dead. Photo: Stephen Collins

Adam Cullen, Robin Schiller and Elaine Keogh

Tragic husband and wife Marie and James Quigley are to be laid to rest side by side.

The couple will share a joint funeral ceremony in the sleepy Co Louth village of Kilkerley later this week.

Last night a close family friend said it is "what Marie would have wanted".

"They were always together, you rarely saw them apart.

"Regardless of the horrible situation of how they died they would have wanted to be together. May they both rest in peace," she said.

Grandmother Marie Quigley (68) suffered a violent death at her home in Hackballcross, Co Louth, before her husband was killed in a traffic collision after driving the wrong way on the M1.

Gardaí believe that James 'Jim' Quigley bludgeoned his wife to death with a lump hammer before being involved in the fatal crash.

Last night the couple's family issued a statement in which they asked to be left to grieve in private.

A spokesperson for the family said: "We the Quigley and Beagan family would like to ask for privacy at this trying time.

"We would ask all media outlets to respect our privacy and let us grieve our parents.

"We would like to thank our extended family and friends for their continued thoughts and prayers."

The Quigleys' home, 'San Aidene', was named after the Quigleys' young son who died in a tragic drowning incident more than 20 years ago.

The street "has never had as much as a break-in", according to a resident of 89 years.

That all changed on Monday afternoon as the tranquil area was the scene of an utterly horrific crime, with one source summing up the scene in pure shock: "I've never seen anything like that".

James 'Jim' Quigley is believed to have beaten his wife to death with a hammer before losing his own life by driving head on into oncoming traffic on the M1.

The house, a large red-brick property just a few miles from the busy motorway where Jim Quigley met his death, was still sealed off yesterday as specialist officers dressed in forensic overalls examined the scene.

Meanwhile, uniformed officers knocked on doors of nearby houses and made enquiries.

Neighbours struggled to comprehend how a "quiet, lovely and unique couple" could encounter such a tragic and violent fate.

"They were loyal to one another. I'm still trying to come to terms with what happened," said Alice Lynch, who lives just yards away from where the killing of Marie Quigley took place . . . They kept to themselves but were very friendly," she added.

"You wouldn't imagine a place like Hackballscross ever being associated with such an awful incident," said another neighbour.

Meanwhile, the apparent murder-suicide that claimed the lives of the married couple brings to five the number of tragic deaths within the same family.

Tragedy

Locals say Jim Quigley had suffered mental health issues for a prolonged period, but no motive has yet become apparent for the killing.

Sources say the real reason may never come to light.

The incident is the fifth tragedy to hit the family. More than 20 years ago the couple's son Aidan (9) died in a drowning accident.

Next, Jim Quigley's brother Peter, died in tragic circumstances several years ago.

Last year, the family suffered another loss when Marie's nephew, Terence Beagan Junior, lost his life in a car accident on New Year's Day.

The 43-year-old recording-studio director was killed instantly after being involved in a head on collision at Ballynahaglish, Co Mayo.

Locked

The murder-suicide on Monday brings to five the number of tragic deaths the Quigley/Beagan family has had to endure.

The body of Mrs Quigley was found by her son at her home just before 4pm.

Sources said that Kieran Quigley had gone to meet his father at the house in Hackballscross, but instead found the house quiet and the upstairs bedroom locked with the curtains drawn.

He then called his cousin to help him break down the bedroom door, and the pair found the body of Mrs Quigley, who had suffered serious head injuries.

Gardaí were only 200 yards away at the time as they were already approaching the house following the fatal collision on the M1.

Officers had traced the registration plate of Mr Quigley's car to the arrest and were expecting to break the tragic news of the collision to the family.

However, gardaí were stunned to be confronted with a suspicious death in the upstairs bedroom of the property and immediately made a connection between the two scenes.

One garda source said he had "never seen anything like the scene", as Mrs Quigley had suffered horrific head injuries.

Both bodies were taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda for post-mortem examinations.

Gardaí confirmed they were treating Mrs Quigley's death as a murder.

The couple are survived by four children - Kieran, who also lives in Hackballscross; Gavin, who lives in Cork; Mark, who is currently in Canada; and Sonya, who lives in Newbridge.

A lifelong neighbour described the couple as "lovely, quiet people."

Door-to-door enquiries and technical examinations were carried out following the tragedy.

Sinn Féin councillor Tomás Sharkey said the family were "well known, with broad connections into different types of community life, local and across the region and into the town of Dundalk.

"Everybody respects the Quigley and Beagan families and that's what makes it such a big shock."

Irish Independent

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