Two grieving Dublin sisters whose father was brutally stabbed to death have revealed how he fought for his life as he was attacked.
Appealing for information that could convict his killers, June and Orla Gallagher remembered their dad Michael, who was murdered five years ago in a sustained attack in the Tallaght house he shared with his partner.
In a crime that has baffled gardai, two young men called to the house in the Tymonville estate on January 18, 2007, and barged in when Michael's partner Sally Rogers answered the door.
One of the masked men held Sally back while the other set about stabbing Michael 15 times before they fled.
"There are two seriously dangerous people still walking around out there as far as we know," said June.
"We need information that will help the guards put them behind bars," her sister Orla added.
Together they described how the shocking events of that fateful night unfolded. Bizarrely, June and Orla were already in the A&E depart-ment of Tallaght Hospital when Michael was rushed there.
"Orla had an infection in her foot for days and we both went up to get it seen to," said June.
"We had been there waiting for ages when a man was stretchered in with firemen and gardai around him, but we didn't actually know it was dad," she added.
It was only around ten minutes later when they spotted a distraught Sally that the alarm bells started to ring in their minds.
"I hobbled into the toilet after Sally and she told me dad had been stabbed, so I went screaming out to June and we asked at reception if a Michael Gallagher had been brought in," Orla explained.
"Then we were taken into a room and told that dad had died," said June.
From that moment until now, June and Orla and their wider family have never been able to establish why their father was killed or who killed him.
"It is just so bizarre. He wasn't involved in any crime or anything. He was just a hard working 60-year-old man. We are baffled by this and we appeal to anybody who has any information to come forward," Orla told the Herald.
"We can't understand how anyone would put themselves at risk to do what they did to dad. He was a big man and he tried to defend himself. To go into that house with a knife and risk being injured or leaving DNA everywhere is just hard to understand," she added.
"Dad fought for his life that night. His hands were all cut from where he tried to defend himself. That's what upsets me a lot when I think of him that night, trying to stop it all happening," said June.
Both sisters believe that their father's death was not a case of mistaken identity, even though they can think of no reason why anyone would want to kill Michael.
"They must have known he was in the house. It seems like they knew who they were looking for. They stabbed him 15 times after all," said Orla.
"And we think it must be a personal grudge or something. If dad was involved in crime or anything it would be more likely he would have been shot," June explained.
"This is what has us so surprised about the whole thing. He was just an ordinary man, he liked simple enough things, and then he went back to Leitrim at the weekends to help renovate his old family home with his brother," said Orla.
The two sisters say that if their father had died of a heart attack or natural causes, or if he had been involved in crime, that it would be somehow easier to explain or rationalise his death.
"If he had been involved in crime you could at least think there was some reason for his death. I know that sounds odd, but if someone moves in those circles it is always a risk, but our father didn't mix with people like that," said Orla.
Orla has also wondered why her father was killed at that time of day, just after 10pm.
"Was it because they knew he was in but not gone to bed? Or could it have been that they knew the gardai switch shifts around then and they might think there would be a short delay in their response that would give them extra time to get away," she explained.
They described Michael as a hard-working man with a love of music and art.
"He drove trucks and did courier work for years, and later in life was doing painting, decorating and renovating the old family home in Mohill in Leitrim," said Orla.
"He loved painting and music. That's what he liked when he wasn't working," June explained.
Orla and June and another sister, Karen, are Michael's children from his first marriage. Their mother died when they were young and Michael later married again and had two young children in that relationship.
But there was an amicable split in that marriage, and his wife moved back to her native Spain with their two young children.
Michael used to often travel to Spain about twice a year to visit his children.
He had been in a settled relationship with Sally Rogers for a number of years before he was brutally killed. Sally has children from a previous relationship.
Both June and Orla hope that with the passage of time anybody with information on their father's death might be less fearful of coming forward.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Tallaght gardai on 6666000, the garda confidential line on 1800 666111, or Crimestoppers on 1800 250025.