Monday 26 August 2019

Profile: Trial took a physical toll on long-suffering wife Imelda Quirke

Imelda Quirke pictured leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Imelda Quirke pictured leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice. Photo: Gerry Mooney Newsdesk

THE long-suffering wife of defendant Patrick Quirke, Imelda, accompanied him faithfully to court every day.

The couple travelled up and down from Limerick Junction by train - a gruelling ordeal, even without the daily trauma inflicted upon her by the evidence she heard mounting up against her husband, the open discussion of his affair and the mention of the tragic death of their son Alan (11) in 2012.

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Having already been through so much in recent years, since the loss of her son and the fallout of the discovery of Bobby Ryan's remains in 2013, the trial took a marked physical toll upon her.

Already small and slight, Ms Quirke lost a considerable amount of weight and appeared frozen and sometimes bewildered by what she was hearing.

But she never lost her composure throughout the 13 long weeks of evidence, and she was attentive to her husband in the courtroom, passing him bottles of water and checking to see how he was. Sometimes, she was accompanied by her eldest son.

The couple ate lunch together and, at least once, took a lunchtime stroll in the Phoenix Park.

At one stage, Ms Quirke had a good relationship with her sister-in-law Mary Lowry, who was married to Ms Quirke's brother, Martin.

When Martin passed away, Ms Lowry and her three boys would join the Quirke family for holidays abroad, staying in luxury villas in Spain and Portugal.

Her husband began an affair with Ms Lowry in January 2008 and, asked about it by gardaí, he said he thought his wife "probably" knew, but she never said anything to him about it.

On the day of Mr Ryan's disappearance, Quirke took his wife away for the weekend for her birthday, staying in the Heritage Hotel in Portlaoise. They were "getting on well", he told gardaí.

Ms Quirke was the first person he told about the presence of Mr Ryan's body in the tank.

When a garda put it to Quirke that if it had been his wife, he would not have wanted her to see the body in the tank, Quirke replied that his wife always knew what to do.

In 2012, after Ms Lowry began to see Flor Cantillon, Quirke told his wife about the affair and Ms Lowry sent Ms Quirke a card saying "sorry".

Quirke told gardaí his wife was "furious" and tore up the card.

Explaining to gardaí why he had told his wife about the affair, he said: "I needed to know if our marriage could survive it. I needed to be honest."

In his letter to agony aunt Patricia Redlich, which formed part of the evidence, Quirke wrote: "My wife has been a tremendous support and loves me deeply. Ironically, this almost makes things worse."

Irish Independent

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