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Man's 'head was bursting' before killing mum-of-6

A DAD-of-TWO who suffered from depression admitted to his sister that his "head was bursting" just days before he killed his partner and himself.

John Deegan (53) from Lumcloon, near Cloghan, Co Offaly shot Deirdre Keenan (51), from Cos na Feadain, Naas, Co Kildare, dead before turning the gun on himself during a weekend away in Carlow.

The cleaner at Stonehaven B&B, Centaur Street, Carlow discovered the body of Mr Deegan on the couch – Ms Keegan's body was found in an upstairs bedroom on February 25 last year.


Both had "catastrophic head injuries" and their deaths were caused by a gunshot wound, a joint inquest heard yesterday.

Both had previously been married but Mr Deegan had been separated eight months before his death after his marriage of 26 years ended. Mother of six, Deirdre Keenan's marriage had broken up but she was still legally married.

Coroner Brendan Doyle heard Mr Deegan was a father of two who worked as a digger driver with the OPW but had been on sick leave at the time of his death.

His sister Mary Ann Molloy said he had been receiving treatment for depression.

Just days before the tragic incident, he had called to see her and told her that his "head was bursting".

She asked if he was taking his medication for depression and he said he was and when she asked if he had been drinking, he replied that he had had "a couple".

Ms Molloy became emotional in the witness box as her deposition was read aloud in which she said: "I can't believe this tragedy has happened. It's so out of character for John. I cannot believe he took Deirdre's life as well as his own."

Cleaner Elizabeth Byrne was the first to raise the alert, having let herself into the B&B that Monday afternoon. She discovered the body of Mr Deegan, clad only in boxer shorts, leaning backwards on the couch.

She "didn't like the colour of him" and went straight out to tell John Clerkin, owner of the B&B, who was in his public house directly across the street.

Mr Clerkin went over to the B&B where he found Mr Deegan on the couch and Ms Keenan upstairs, he locked the house and informed the gardai.

Mr Deegan's body was identified to the Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis by his sister, Ms Molloy while Ms Keenan was identified by her brother, Laurence McGarr.

Dr Curtis said he had inspected the scene and that there was a "catastrophic exit wound to the top of the head," of Mr Deegan.

Upstairs, he found the body of Ms Keenan lying on a blood-stained bed and she too had suffered a "catastrophic" wound to the head.

He found death in each case had been instantaneous and had occurred from a single gunshot wound to the head.


Blood alcohol levels had been "high" in the case of Ms Keenan and "modest" in the case of Mr Deegan with no drugs present in either.

The jury returned a verdict of suicide for Mr Deegan and unlawful killing for Ms Keenan and extended their sympathies to both families.

Laurence McGarr said there was nothing that could be said of his sister's death, asking: 'What can we say?"

Ms Molloy said it had been a terrible tragedy and said she had known Deirdre to be a "very nice woman" who had always spoken highly of her children.

She said her brother had a "good heart" and was a "hard-working, honest Christian who had always gone to mass every Sunday."