Sunday 25 August 2019

Gerard O'Regan: 'Lust for cash, not sex, drove Quirke to kill DJ over deluded sense of injustice'

Pat Quirke. Photo: Collins
Pat Quirke. Photo: Collins

Gerard O'Regan

Somehow, somewhere along the way, a click went off in his brain. We will never know when his first murderous thought took hold. In the cascading turmoil of his recent life the memory of that singular moment may be lost forever.

Murder since time immemorial has had many guises. It ranges from random instinctive killing to detailed pre-planning for the ending of human life. But always, always, demons within will have been in ferment. The likely cocktail of emotion, swarming in Pat Quirke's head propelling him to kill, has been well recounted. But it is all too easy to presume it was sexual jealousy that nudged him towards the cliff edge.

He may have had his moments brooding as a jilted lover battling rejection. But greed, a lust for cash, and a desire to become a really rich man are what lured Quirke into a space where human empathy deserted him.

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His own holding of 67 acres had become far too modest for his money-making schemes. Over the years he had 'diversified' into various non-farming activities. He had shown himself to be especially well informed when pursuing sundry investments.

But a story as old as time itself is the mixed emotions of a man with limited acreage living near somebody with much more land at their disposal. In such a scenario, human nature - with its proclivity for endless comparison - can sow the seeds of seething jealousies and life-long resentments. Mary Lowry, with a much bigger farm and able to access substantial amounts of cash, made Quirke almost starry-eyed with money-making opportunities on his doorstep. This was the lever which would free him to indulge his more grandiose plans.

Financially speaking, he felt he was on a rollercoaster through his relationship with Ms Lowry. Under his instigation, her money became tied up in various financial schemes.

Even complicated 'contracts for difference', outside the ken of many Irish farmers, were part of his 'financial portfolio'.

The land she owned had become the golden ticket which could make Quirke the kind of wealth he craved. Even better times were on the horizon for a man whose mother claimed he had used sharp practice to seize control of the family home.

But when 'Mr Moonlight' came on the scene, Quirke's dream of a monied future collapsed overnight. His personal relationship with his near neighbour was the key to everything.

We don't fully know why Mary Lowry called time on what she termed their 'seedy' affair. But it is clear she had emotionally moved on. Despite some frantic efforts on his part, Quirke was out of her life. The nightmare, from his viewpoint, was that she planned to take back full control of her farm. It would be a major coming down in the world for her former lover.

What gave this case a special piquancy is that a saga of sex, land, and money was played out against the hinterland of rural Irish life. The key players were middle-aged farming folk.

Deeper psychologies of what prompted Quirke to murder are rooted in his own background and formative years. What made him so lustful for land and cash? He just could not let things lie. Living in the local agricultural bubble, he was reminded all the while of the Lowry acreage and the money he could be earning from it.

And so when he carried out the fateful deed, a deluded sense of injustice had overpowered him. He felt he had been wronged. It seemed something he regarded as rightfully his had been plucked from his grasp. His anger was all-consuming. Disposing of his victim's body so near the Lowry home was macabre; but there is no evidence he was tortured by any kind of haunting presence.

Many mysteries remain when murderers do not confess their guilt.

The pudgy, middle-aged Tipperary farmer strode in and out of court each day with his trademark cap and laptop. His face - despite a hint of menace - remained inscrutable all the while.

We will never know. Maybe he himself does not know. But the evidence suggests Pat Quirke murdered part-time DJ Bobby Ryan not over matters pertaining to sex.

He was motivated by something he considered much more important than affairs of the heart. Money.

Irish Independent

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