It was around 8pm on Tuesday when John Mahony phoned his neighbour Mossie O’Sullivan for a chat. As well as living close to each other in the rural hinterland of Lixnaw, Co Kerry, the two men were firm friends, speaking to each other on a regular basis, either in person or on the phone.
“I wanted to talk to him about something,” he told the Irish Independent.
“He never answered and I was waiting for him to ring me back. That didn’t happen.”
The unanswered call in itself wasn’t unusual. But an hour later, while John was out mowing his lawn, the arrival of two women, expressing concern that something was amiss at Mossie’s home, prompted John to call to the house himself.
“Two neighbours, two women, called to me and said they hadn’t seen Eileen all day,” said John.
Mossie O’Sullivan (63) kept bees and sold honey to the locals. One of the women had called to his house to collect a jar and met the other woman, who told her she hadn’t seen Eileen all day.
They added that the family dog, which was always with Eileen, was there and the door was open.
John said: “They came over to me and said: ‘Will you come over? We think there is something wrong.’ I thought they were exaggerating but I said: ‘I will of course’.”
John hopped into his jeep and drove to the O’Sullivan house. As he walked to the door, he noticed it was open.
“I pulled up in the yard and thought it was unusual,” he said.
“Then I saw that the dog was running about, which was odd too.
“I went up to the door, which was open, and I knocked it a few times.
“I was shouting out as well, ‘Hello,’ a couple of times. There was no response and no sound coming from a anyone so I made my way inside.”
John found Eileen (56) lying in one bedroom dead and Jamie (24) in another room.
“I knew by the scene… by what I could see… that they were dead,” John said.
“It was a dreadful scene, just shocking, but I suppose somebody had to find them.”
At this point, Mossie had not yet been found.
“I rang the gardaí straight away and I said: ‘I can’t see Mossie.’ They said: ‘Don’t go looking for Mossie, don’t go looking for anyone. Just stay where you are until we come’.”
John met the gardaí at the scene.
He told them that Mossie O’Sullivan helped out a man who lived nearby and kept some sheep out the back.
“The guards looked there and they found him. It’s only a short distance away,” he said.
John said his house is within “hearing distance” of the O’Sulllivans’ house and that he would have expected to have heard gunshots. He speculated that the shots may have been fired during the night.
“I don’t exactly know when it happened but I didn’t hear anything, unless it happened at night,” he said.
He said he had last seen Mossie “face to face” on Friday or Saturday and spoke to him on the phone on Sunday, “chatting for an hour about different things, things in general”.
He added: “I do know that he was seen on Monday and that a good few other people were talking to him in person that day.”
According to gardaí, a legally held firearm was recovered from the scene. They have not provided any further detail on the weapon.
“Mossie would have had a gun,” said John.
“He was part of the gun club back in the day and he used to do a bit of shooting.”
Yesterday, as the remains were removed from the family home which is now a crime scene, locals struggled to make sense of the deaths.
One local farmer said Mossie O’Sullivan had been “quite down on life” in recent days. He said he had been “complaining that nothing was working out for him”.
It is understood that gardaí are keen to establish if he had disclosed any recent mental health problems.
John said he was aware of local speculation over the deaths, in particular claims that Mossie was experiencing financial difficulties.
“I wouldn’t think that was the case at all,” he said.
“He sold sheep to me and that’s not unusual for this time of year. He wouldn’t have a lot of sheep.
“There are certain people and you might say, ‘he was always a bit touchy,’ but Mossie was anything but.
“There have never been any problems in the house as far as I know. I’ve never heard anyone say that they weren’t getting on and just can’t figure out why he did this.
“I know Mossie well and I have no idea what has led to this.”
However, John added: “I just thought he hadn’t been himself for the last week or 10 days.
“He would be a very easy-going person but he didn’t seem his usual self.
“I definitely would not have expected anything like this though.”
John said the family were very respected locally and that Jamie O’Sullivan was particularly well-liked.
“He was a good worker,” he said. “He used to work for Liebherr in Killarney and he would also give local farmers a hand.
“He would drive tractors and do a bit of baling for them.”
Eileen O’Sullivan, who shared the same surname as Mossie but was not married to him, had suffered a stroke in recent years, but had made a good recovery, said John.
“She would always be out walking the dog,” he added.
John said that he found it particularly difficult to comprehend that Mossie O’Sullivan had killed his own son.
“Any time you would go to Mossie’s he was always talking about Jamie,” he said.
“He talked about him all the time. He loved talking about Jamie and he loved Jamie. I can’t figure it out.
“I’m not qualified to say what happened… but definitely, something must have snapped.”