Monday 19 March 2018

Sleepless nights for locals who looked out for quiet character

Paddy Lyons (90) was found in his home on Saturday
Paddy Lyons (90) was found in his home on Saturday

Ryan Nugent

Paddy Lyons never had a bank account. He kept all of his money at home in his rural homestead in Ballysaggart, where he believed it was safe.

That was until he became a victim of repeated burglaries. Con artists who pretended to be gardaí, cowards who visited when he wasn't at home. The 90-year-old's pension was an easy target for spineless thieves.

Paddy's neighbours encouraged him to set up a bank account after the last robbery in 2011.

They hoped that this would make him less of a target, particularly given his home was 500m away from the nearest neighbour.

But still they came.

The community watch group tried to persuade Mr Lyons to install an alarm system, but he was too set in his ways.

Even if it had been installed, an alarm may not have helped this time around. Gardaí believe Mr Lyons - in his trusting manner - invited his killer into his home. This wolf in sheep's clothing may have been with Mr Lyons many times before.

Detectives now believe that a group of between six and 10 people had been in the farmhouse in the 48 hours before the discovery of his body on Saturday evening.

A group of people had also regularly frequented Paddy's home, dropping up clothes in recent months. Without any mode of transport of his own, Paddy was reliant on the help of others to get new garments. Known as one of the characters in the rural area, Paddy, an only child, was very much a quiet and insular man.

But he was without a doubt a character in the village. Everyone knew him at least to say hello. Some would even get a bit more of a chat out of him - maybe about the political issue of the week - when he sat on the bench outside the local church following mass. He was regularly seen at funerals in the town.

Up until the last couple of years, he might have even cycled or walked in the 10km distance, unless he could hitch a lift.

Michael O'Leary, owner of the Red House in Lismore, said Paddy would come in the odd time for a bit of company from other old-timers.

"He'd have come in up until a few years ago - he was a teetotaller," Mr O'Leary said. "He'd walk in and like to talk about politics."

A bachelor, Paddy lived in the family homestead all his life, and alone since his mother died more than 30 years ago. But he was not alone. Friends and neighbours in the community were always looking out for him. They drove the elderly man into Lismore every week to collect his pension, they helped him out with groceries and tried to protect him. But it seems there were others watching too.

As the dust begins to settle on this horrific incident to hit Ballysaggart, one local is hoping the crime is in isolation, while others, understandably, have been having sleepless nights.

Crime figures, particularly burglaries, dropped in 2016 on the previous year, though this is scant consolation in Ballysaggart.

When something like this happens in your community, it becomes all too real.

Irish Independent

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