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Thursday 14 November 2019

The patrol cars and tape gone, the silence is only broken by birdsong

Retired teacher Maurice O’Connor at his home in Ballyduff, Co Kerry. Photo: Mark Condren
Retired teacher Maurice O’Connor at his home in Ballyduff, Co Kerry. Photo: Mark Condren

Ralph Riegel in Ballyduff

Rattoo Tower in north Kerry has witnessed invasion, famine, war and civil conflict. Yet few tragedies were as personal to the locality as the death of Anthony O'Mahony (74).

The circumstances of what initially appeared to be a simple farming accident eventually led gardaí to launch a murder investigation.

Mr O'Mahony, an unmarried man hailed by locals as "a genius" in the tillage farming sector, had worked a holding for decades that surrounded Rattoo Tower.

Yesterday, a single wreath marked the spot where the elderly farmer lost his life.

There were few other clues as to the tragedy beyond some shattered glass in the centre of the narrow roadway which leads to Mr O'Mahony's holding off the main Ballyduff-Abbeydorney and Tralee road.

The patrol cars and crime scene tape were taken down overnight once Garda Technical Bureau staff had finished their work.

Around the recently ploughed fields in Rattoo, the silence was broken yesterday only by birdsong.

In Ballyduff village there was a palpable sense of tragedy for not just one but two families and indeed for the entire community.

"This is a very tight-knit area," retired teacher Maurice O'Connor said.

"People just cannot believe that something like this has happened here.

"Our hearts go out to all those who are involved in this - it is a tragedy for everyone. A tragedy for the entire community."

Mr O'Connor knew Mr O'Mahony well and had stopped to chat with him in Ballyduff post office about the weather and the impending tillage season just a few weeks ago.

"Everyone is shocked by it. It is hard to believe it happened," he said.

Prayers were offered at Ballyduff Church for Mr O'Mahony, who was a daily Mass-goer.

"The community remains in shock," Fr Brendan Walsh explained.

A post-mortem examination on Mr O'Mahony was concluded at Tralee hospital yesterday by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster.

Mr O'Mahony's removal is tonight at 7.30pm to Peter and Paul's Church in Ballyduff.

Requiem Mass will take place tomorrow at 11am.

His devastated brother and sister, Seamas and Angela, both live locally.

Seamas operates a successful concrete pre-cast business, while Angela's family are involved in farming and potato production.

Mr O'Mahony had attended Warrenstown Agricultural College and had initially began his farming career by producing tomatoes.

Irish Independent

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