Body of man which lay undiscovered for 20 years in derelict Cork house now identified

The body of a man, which lay undiscovered in a long-derelict house in Cork for 20 years, has been identified.

edical, dental and hospital records have now indicated that the deceased is Timothy ‘Timmy’ O’Sullivan, who had lived in Mallow for a decade but who was originally from Kerry and who had spent most of his working life in the UK.

The grim discovery last Friday, made by Cork Co Council staff who had commenced work at the long-derelict house, located just metres from a busy Cork commuter road, a popular pub and a convenience store, shocked the tightknit town of Mallow and left locals with a mixture of horror, disbelief and even guilt.

The fact that a post mortem examination has confirmed gardaí’s belief that the death involved was not suspicious has come as cold comfort to a community struggling to comprehend how a person can die in a town centre property and then not be discovered for over two decades.

Mr O’Sullivan, who was in his late 50s or early 60s when he died, had lived for most of his adult years in the UK where he had worked.

It is understood he had moved to the UK with his family from Kerry when he was a teenager and had then spent the bulk of his adult life there.

However, the Cahersiveen native had moved back to Ireland and settled in Mallow in the early 1990s, buying the small townhouse on Beecher Street.

Mr O’Sullivan had also suffered from mental health issues and had received medical assistance in this regard while living in Cork.

Locals believed he had moved back to the UK when he suddenly vanished just over two decades ago.

Mallow is a proud town and has struggled to comprehend how something like this could happen locally.

The new millennium wasn’t even two years old when Mr O’Sullivan apparently died alone in the Beecher Street house. 

For two decades, cars sped by on the busy road outside used by locals and commuters as a “rat run” for traffic heading to Cork, Limerick, Killarney and Mallow train station.

For 20 years, revellers emptied from the Mouse Trap pub, located just a few doors away, and headed to their homes oblivious to the tragedy behind a locked door only a few metres from them.

Today, a small bouquet of flowers was placed outside the front door to reflect local upset at the tragedy.

Long-serving Cork East TD Sean Sherlock is a Mallow resident.

“This is such a tragedy that it is beyond our comprehension,” he said. “It has an enormous effect on the psyche of our community, especially when we have a strong tradition of looking out for each other.

“The people in Beecher Street are very close knit and are great neighbours.

“When you speak to people in Beecher Street you get a strong sense that people perceived that the person (involved) had returned to the UK and that the house was unoccupied. It is very sad but it should not reflect poorly on our community where community ties run deep.”

A Beecher Street resident, who declined to be named, said locals were shocked and upset at the discovery of the man’s body.

“I wasn’t living here 20 years ago but, from what I’ve heard, everyone thought this man had moved to England,” said the resident.

“Everyone locally thought the house was empty, unoccupied and basically derelict.

“In fact, I think some people had been campaigning for the council to do something about the house, which had been boarded up since I moved here.

“You can understand this happening in a big city, but it is very upsetting to see it happening in a town like Mallow.”

The property belonged to Tim O’Sullivan.

Neighbours believed he had moved overseas, with Mr O’Sullivan understood to have spent considerable time in the UK in his early life. When he was no longer seen around the area, locals believed he had gone to the UK.

Council staff only entered the boarded up property after an inspection was directed following the securing of a Compulsory Purchase Order.

Several notices in respect of the CPO process were attached to the front door of the derelict house. The front two windows of the 100-year-old property were boarded up.

It is understood that repeated attempts by the council to contact Mr O’Sullivan, failed.

Council workers discovered the skeletal remains in a room minutes after they entered the property to inspect it.

“Cork County Council offers its deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased,” a council spokesperson said.

Councillor Liam Madden acknowledged that it was “an absolutely extraordinary situation”.

“Of course it is very sad what happened – that this person wasn’t discovered for such a long period of time,” he said.

Gardaí relied on forensic analysis, medical and dental records to help confirm Mr O’Sullivan’s identity. Newspapers and food products in the property – while severely degraded – indicated that he may have been lying dead in the property since around 2001/2002.

Efforts are now underway to trace relatives of Mr O’Sullivan.

Detectives have again appealed for anyone with information to help them with their inquiries.

While the length of time involved is not unique, there have been similar cases around the country over the years.

In 2009, the body of a man was discovered partially mummified in a Cork city flat after he had died almost two months earlier.

Last year, gardaí dealt with two cases of remains discovered in properties some time after the death of the individuals.

A man discovered at a property in Sallynoggin in Dublin is believed to have lain undiscovered for over a year.

In Tipperary, an elderly couple were discovered dead in their rural cottage last June, an estimated 18 months.

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