John O’Mahony – the neighbour who discovered the bodies of Eileen and Jamie O’Sullivan on September 7 last year – said he has never been offered counselling or professional help for what he witnessed on that tragic evening.
It’s eight months since John O’Mahony, a local farmer from Ballyreehan near Lixnaw, discovered the dead bodies of his neighbours, Eileen and Jamie O’Sullivan.
Just a short distance away from the O’Sullivan home that evening also lay the body of John’s friend and neighbour, Mossie - partner to Eileen and father to Jamie.
All three died from gunshot wounds in a suspected murder-suicide.
Eileen’s niece Cath Houlihan and Norma Harrington - a neighbour of the O’Sullivan family - have just launched a public campaign calling on the Government and HSE to offer counselling to the Lixnaw community as they still struggle to comprehend the tragedy almost a year on.
John O’Mahony welcomes the efforts of Cath and Norma in trying to get professional help for neighbours and friends of the O’Sullivan family.
He witnessed scenes on entering the O’Sullivan home that no neighbour should have to witness.
He says he is coping the best he can with being the first to find the remains of Eileen and Jamie. He is determined to get on with life despite the shadow of sadness that still hangs over him.
“I think I’m coping alright anyway. I’m working away every day and doing what I normally do.”
“If I see things happening elsewhere, on the news or on television, that would bring it back to me as certain things would remind you of it. I remember for the few days after it happened I was very shocked and totally put out over it,” said John.
“It’s been a difficult few months, and it’s been way more difficult for some others living here. But what can we do? When people first met after it happened, they talked about it a lot. Now they meet and don’t talk about it as much. You have to move on as well. It was an awful thing to happen,” he added.
John said no one came near the community to offer professional help following the shootings.
He tells me that he knows of people in the locality that are still finding it difficult to come to terms with the loss of Eileen, Jamie, and Mossie.
“No one ever came to me or anyone else offering help. People should have been seen soon after it. When I think back, I often ask: ‘how did it even happen at all?’ You could hardly believe it at the time,” John said.
“Even nine months on, no one can come up with an explanation for what happened that night. But I do think for the people that want help, they should still get it,” he added.
John is extremely stoic about the incident. He doesn’t for a second deny that it hasn’t impacted his life. He just prefers to engross himself in his farm work and keep ‘the head busy’ all the time.
“I just try to put my head down and get on with things as best I can. Of course, there are days and nights when you think of it.”
"There are nights that you would be awake thinking of it. Life goes on, you must try and get on with it and not let it get the better of you,” he explained.
“I saw more than I, or anyone else, would have wanted to see that night. I wasn’t expecting a thing when I walked into that house. I thought Mossie would be inside having a cup of tea and he’d ask me if I wanted one.
“If it was a house where you thought there might be trouble in, you might be half thinking about going over. But there wasn’t a thing in the world that crossed my mind that I’d see what I did.”
"There was never a bother in the world there. Mossie was a kind man and very obliging. Whenever you met Mossie you couldn’t get away from him, he’d be talking so much,” he said.
The lasting impact of not seeing Eileen, Jamie, and Mossie in the community every day is the hardest part for John and his neighbours.
“It’s tough not seeing them around, you’d miss them,” he said.
"Shortly after it happened you might look up and see someone walking the road, you’d forget for a second and say: ‘is that Eileen or Mossie’. Eileen used to walk the roads a lot with her little dog. It’s a sad, very sad thing that happened. There’s no other way to describe it.”