The deaths that shocked Ireland in 2020 as communities shattered

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Almost 1,000 people died violently in Ireland in the past 10 years, figures have revealed.

A further 49 names were added to the tragic toll in 2020 as the decade closed.

Violent deaths and murder struck at the heart of dozens of families and communities during this year, from a young teenager savagely mutilated to a hero Garda who died in the line of duty.

A number of killings shocked the nation to its core during the past 12 months.

With three days left in 2020, 49 people have been murdered or died in suspicious circumstances.

December has been the only month of the year where no one has been violently killed.

Last year saw a significant drop in murder numbers, with 55 losing their lives, 83 in 2018, 92 in 2017 and 85 in 2016, according to

The 55 homicides recorded last year were the lowest number in the period between 2003 and 2019.

Homicides in Ireland have increased from 2003 onwards, reaching a peak of 152 in 2007 before declining to the relatively low figures seen in the late 2010s. The year got off to an ominous start in the criminal world with the murder of a 17-year-old from Co Louth in early January.

More body parts were found two days later in a burnt-out car in Drumcondra.

The chief suspect in his killing, gangland hitman Robbie Lawlor, from Coolock, was also shot dead in Belfast in April.

Gardai believed he had been sent up North on a job but was double-crossed with the help of a Dublin crime boss.

Officers believe Lawlor’s murder was payback for the teen’s killing, as well as the attempted murder of one of the Drogheda gang’s leaders.

Robbie Lawlor

A number of suspects have been arrested at various times throughout the year and several people are before the courts here and in the North.

As the country went into its first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic, 71-year-old Kilkenny pensioner Anne Butler lay dead in her city centre home for several days before being discovered.Trevor Rowe, 28, of Abbey Street, Kilkenny, was charged with her murder.

Two months later, Kildare pensioner Peter Kennedy died after an assault at his home in Newbridge. A man has been charged with his murder.

In June, shock and fear hit the very fabric of society and gardai when the “gentleman” officer, Detective Colm Horkan, was fatally shot
while on an anti-crime patrol in Roscommon.

Detective Garda Colm Horkan who was shot dead in Castlerea, Co Roscommon

He was based in Castlerea Garda station. The 49-year-old single man, who was nicknamed “The Bear” and was an avid sportsman, received a State funeral in his hometown of Charlestown, Co Mayo.

A new charge of capital murder was brought last month against Stephen Silver, 44.

The accused, of Aughaward, Foxford, Co Mayo, has been on remand since the incident.

In the same month, mother-of-two Jean Eagers, 57, died in her home in Blanchardstown.

Jean Eagers

Her 60-year-old taxi driver husband William was charged with her murder and with producing a samurai sword.

Never far from the Irish psyche is the issue of land and ownership and the October Bank Holiday saw it brought brutally to the fore once again.

The body of married father-of-two Tadgh O’Sullivan and his youngest son Diarmuid, 23, were found in a field close to their rural farm and home near Kanturk in Co Cork.

Family tragedy in Kanturk, Co Cork. Tadgh, Mark and Ann O’Sullivan. Right, Diarmuid

The two men each died from a self-inflicted gunshot. Mr O’Sullivan’s other son Mark, 25, was found dead in his upstairs bedroom at the farmhouse after suffering several gunshots.

A lengthy letter was found on Diarmuid’s body with gardai indicating they were investigating the possibility that the shooting of solicitor Mark may have been planned by his younger brother and father. The alarm by Mr O’Sullivan’s seriously ill wife Ann, who was unhurt as she fled bare foot to neighbours, alerted them a shot had been fired inside the house.

It is understood the three shootings centred around land inheritance.

A month later, a man in his 30s was arrested by gardai and charged with three murder counts after a tragic discovery at a house in Ballinteer.

So many lives lost, with hundreds of family members and friends left to pick up the pieces, with generations to come, faced with attempting to glue them back together to make some semblance of their lives as the years pass.

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Post Author: Izabella Jaworska

Izabella Jaworska 56 Southend Avenue BLACKHEATH IP19 7ZU 070 7077 0588