| 10.1°C Dublin

Gardaí search area outside Killarney in connection with brutal murder of grandmother Miriam Burns


Miriam Burns, who was found dead at her home

Miriam Burns, who was found dead at her home

Gardaí at the home of Miriam Burns in Ardshanavooly Estate in Killarney on Tuesday. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Gardaí at the home of Miriam Burns in Ardshanavooly Estate in Killarney on Tuesday. Photo: Don MacMonagle


Miriam Burns, who was found dead at her home

Gardaí are today searching an area outside Killarney near an old holy well in connection with the brutal murder of grandmother Miriam Burns (75).

The search is understood to be directly linked to the arrest of a man in his 50s in south Kerry on suspicion of the murder of the pensioner and mother of four.

Uniformed officers and detectives commenced the detailed search this morning.

One source indicated that the primary target of the search is the recovery of clothing and material from the area which may potentially be connected to the killing.

Forensic officers are supporting the search.

Gardaí believe that the grandmother was fatally assaulted in her home sometime between Friday and Monday.

Detectives fear Miriam Burns was brutally beaten to death in her home by someone known to her - and that she was dead for some time when she was discovered at lunchtime on Monday.

Gardaí launched a murder investigation on Tuesday evening into the death of the kind-hearted grandmother hailed as "Killarney's smiling lady."

Detectives arrested a man in his 50s within one hour of the murder investigation being confirmed.

The man - who was arrested in the south Kerry area - was taken to Killarney Garda Station where he was detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and can be questioned for up to 24 hours.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Killarney defence solicitor, Padraig O'Connell, attended the garda station and will act for the individual.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

The man has already been subjected to a medical assessment and has taken both food and rest breaks.

His period of detention now expires on Thursday by which time gardaí must decide whether to charge or release him.

Gardaí refused to release the findings of a post mortem examination for operational reasons - but confirmed they are now treating the pensioner's death as murder.

"A post-mortem examination was conducted on Tuesday at University Hospital Kerry (UHK) by State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster, the results of which are not being released for operational reasons," a Garda spokesperson said.

"An incident room has been established at Killarney Garda Station and a murder investigation has commenced under the direction of a Senior Investigating Officer. A Family Liaison Officer has been appointed and continues to keep the family informed of the investigation."

"Gardaí are appealing to any persons who were in the Ardshanavooly area of Killarney between 5pm on Friday (August 12) and 1pm on Monday (August 15) and observed any activity which drew their attention, to come forward."

No funeral details for Mrs Burns have been released as yet.

Emotional tributes were paid to Mrs Burns who was hailed by shocked friends and neighbours as "Killarney's smiling lady."

Some residents of the Ardshanavooly estate on the outskirts of Killarney openly wept as they recalled an elegant, kind-hearted lady who had a smile for everyone.

Mrs Burns was discovered dead in a front room of her two-storey terrace home at lunchtime on Monday.

Neighbours had called to the house after one of Mrs Burns' children, who lives overseas, became deeply concerned at being unable to contact her.

They were horrified to discover the pensioner lifeless in the front room - and immediately rang Gardaí amid shock at the visible injuries she had suffered.

Gardaí and paramedics raced to the scene but it is believed Mrs Burns had been dead for some time.

Garda sources said they were immediately suspicious about the nature of Mrs Burns' injuries and whether they could have been sustained in an accidental fall.

The pensioner was discovered with dried blood visible around her head and face.

It is believed she was the victim of a brutal assault.

Detectives are now trying to confirm the last known movements of the woman.

Local sources indicated that Mrs Burns - who was very active in a number of Killarney-based groups - had not been seen locally since last Friday evening.

One garda source said a central element of their investigation will be trying to determine precisely when the pensioner died.

Detectives are also trying to confirm who may have had contact with the deceased in the hours before her death.

There was no sign of forced entry at the terraced property.

Door-to-door inquiries were conducted in an area described by locals as a very quiet residential part of Killarney.

CCTV security camera footage from the area, which is located close to a Tesco shopping centre and a McDonald's outlet, is expected to prove crucial in the investigation.

The pensioner lived for most of her adult life in the Ardshanavooly area but is understood to be originally from Milltown.

She is from a large and highly respected family in south Kerry.

Mrs Burns was known as an avid gardener and for the stunning roses she grew.

Councillor Donal Grady, who lives in Ardshanavooly, paid tribute to Miriam Burns who he knew personally and described as a wonderful mother and grandmother.

"The smiling lady is gone," he said.

"This is a big loss to Killarney. She had a kind word for everyone. She had a smile for everyone - but now that smile is gone."

"This is a very close town. Everyone knows everyone else here and her loss will be felt very deeply."

Mrs Burns lived in the mature housing estate since the 1970s and was known for her involvement in community groups and her preference to cycle to destinations around Killarney town.

Neighbours said they would see Mrs Burns on her bicycle around the estate and the town centre on almost a daily basis.

Her neighbour Ann Cronin said it was "a desperate tragedy" for the estate, the family and the entire Killarney community.

"She really was a lovely person. She was very good to her family, her friends and her neighbours. Everyone feels desperate, to be honest."

Neighbour Paul O'Shea fought back tears at the news of her death.

"It is terrible, really terrible. She was a lovely, lovely lady. She had a kind word for everyone she met. It (the tragedy) is hurting."

Tom Wharton, who lived in Ardshanavooly for seven years, said Mrs Burns always had a cheery wave and a warm smile for neighbours.

"It is such a sad, sad story. It is a desperate thing to happen, especially to such a nice lady."

Councillor Niall 'Botty' O'Callaghan said it was a desperately sad day for Killarney.

"She was a very elegant lady and a kindhearted person."

"Miriam has a large extended family in Killarney and they are really fabulous people. They are very well known and highly respected in the town. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them."

"This has impacted on every part of Killarney. Miriam was a lovely lady and you'd see her cycling up and down the town. She was a fabulous lady, always smiling and a warm wave to anyone she met. She loved talking to people and she would chat all day."

Ardshanavooly is a popular residential area located within walking distance of Killarney town centre and popular local amenities including the Killarney Outlet Centre.

Mrs Burns adored travel and regularly visited European cities.

Most Watched