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Thursday 23 November 2017

Village in shock over tragedy involving 'saint-like' pair who were the perfect match

Gardaí forensic officers at the scene Picture: Steve Humphries
Gardaí forensic officers at the scene Picture: Steve Humphries
Tom Fitzgerald
Kitty Fitzgerald

Ryan Nugent in Mayo

One was bubbly, outgoing and the life and soul of the party, the other a quiet gentleman, always willing to lend a hand - both lost their lives in a horrifying manner.

Tom Fitzgerald (75) and his wife Kitty (72) died in a violent assault at their rural home in Mayo.

The body of popular Kitty was found in a pool of blood in the house, while painter Tom was discovered in a trough outside.

Their son Paul is being treated at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, after he was found close to his devoted parents with serious head injuries on Tuesday.

Gardaí believe the answers to the tragedy lie inside the family home.

Friends and neighbours in the small village of Irishtown on the Mayo-Galway border were shocked at the deaths of two pillars of the community.

Parish priest Fr Martin O'Connor even described Tom and Kitty as saint-like, such was the esteem they were held in locally.

Tom, a former long-term employee at a sugar factory in Galway, turned to painting many years ago, setting up his own business. Local people said there wasn't a building in Irishtown that he hadn't worked on over the years.

"People wouldn't dare take their business some place else when they wanted painting done," one family friend said.

"Tom was involved in everything good that went on, from Mass to Foróige, to community development, to the GAA."

Tom was a familiar figure at the Davitts GAA club, having been involved for decades. He helped sustain and build the community as a director for years with the Irishtown Community Development and before that the community council.

His work in the area included getting a care home for the elderly up and running and he was even involved in social housing.

"He was easy-going, wouldn't be involved in any aggro and made sure everybody was happy," one local said. "He was the man that would do the door [at a community event], whatever you asked him."

Kitty and Tom were described as a perfect match - she was different from her husband, in that she was the more outgoing half of the couple.

As a member of the church choir for decades, she knew everybody and was an ever-present at community functions, some of which their son Paul would have attended too, having performed in local plays there as a teenager.

Adopted by Kitty and Tom at a young age, Paul was described as being "cheerful, very involved in the community and very artistic" when he was in secondary school.

Despite living in Galway, he was regularly in the area, as he would work with his father.

They painted a house together as recently as last week. Post-mortems on Tom and Kitty's bodies will take place today and gardaí will soon know a lot more about a tragedy which has scarred rural Mayo.

Irish Independent

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