WITH just 30 murders in 2015, a fall of 22 from the previous year and the lowest level in over 20 years, Ireland is a relatively safe place. However as these unsolved murders show, the Emerald Isle also has a dark side.
1. James Mulqueen
At 92 years old, it was believed Limerick man James Mulqueen had died of natural causes when his body was discovered on Friday, October 23, 2009. The alarm had been raised when he failed to collect his pension from the post office in the small village of Ardagh.
However a story of sadness turned to suspicion when a post-mortem discovered Mr Mulqueen had several broken bones. The investigation uncovered evidence that money was missing and there were signs of a disturbance at his cottage, however there was no evidence of forced entry, so he may have known his attacker.
Despite the post-mortem results, it was three years before gardaí upgraded their investigation to a murder inquiry. In March 2014 a man was arrested and questioned but was released without charge and the pensioner’s murder remains unresolved.
2. Shaun Duffy
The Gaeltacht village of Dungloe in Donegal is most famous for its summer music festival and accompanying pageant to crown a ‘Mary from Dungloe’. However that quaint life jars with the brutal murder of undertaker Shaun Duffy on January 29, 2005.
Although generally affable, Duffy’s own mother admitted he had many enemies. However irrespective of who he had crossed, the punishment meted out to the 36-year-old was excessive.
After returning home from his mother’s house 300 yards away in the early hours of the morning, it is believed Duffy was set upon by two men who had lain in wait for him. He was attacked with an axe, knife and a crossbow and received blows to the head with a blunt object. He was found the following morning by his brother, lying in a pool of blood with a crossbow bolt still embedded in his arm.
After launching an appeal for information in early 2016, detectives interviewed a number of people later that year, but no one has ever been charged with the murder.
3. Grace Livingstone
Mother-of-two Grace Livingstone, 57, lived in The Moorings, a middle-class estate in Malahide, with her husband James. On the morning of December 7, 1992, Mr Livingstone left for his job as a tax inspector in Dublin. He returned that evening to find his wife’s body in the bedroom. She had been bound and gagged with black tape before being shot once in the back of the head with her husband’s shotgun. There was no sign of forced access.
Mr Livingstone was arrested the following March for illegally held firearms but was released after two days and a second enquiry in 1994 concluded he could not have killed wife. Two neighbours reported hearing unexplained bangs when he was still at work, while a fingerprint found on the tape didn’t match Mr Livingstone’s.
Mr Livingstone, who was involved in two major tax evasion investigations at the time of his wife’s death, including one dealing with smuggling, believes his wife’s murder was linked to his work. In 2008, he settled his case against the State for wrongful arrest, however the identity of his wife’s killer remains a mystery.
4. The Kerry Babies
On April 14, 1984, the body of a newborn baby boy was found on Whitestrand Beach in Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry with 28 stab wounds and a broken neck. The boy was given the name John and baptised before being buried.
Gardaí suspected unmarried Joanne Hayes from Abbeydorney, near Tralee, 40 miles from Cahirciveen. She had recently been pregnant but was no longer so. Nor was there any sign of a baby.
Hayes originally said she buried her baby on her farm after it died shortly after birth. However on May 1, following lengthy interrogation, Hayes and her sister, two brothers, mother and aunt signed statements confessing to involvement in the stabbing of the baby found on the beach before it was thrown into the sea.
Hayes was charged with murder but a day later, the remains of Hayes’ actual baby were found in a field on the family farm, corroborating her original story.
Tests showed that the blood type of the baby on the farm was O, matching both Joanne and the baby’s married father, Jeremiah Locke, while that of the beach baby was A.
Still convinced that Hayes had killed the baby found on the beach, gardaí pursued a theory of heteropaternal superfecundation, claiming Joanne had sex with two men of different blood types within 24 hours and later gave birth to twins, each with a different father.
Ultimately the murder charge against Hayes was dropped but a tribunal in 1985 found she had killed her own baby on the farm, despite the state pathologist being unable to confirm a cause of death. The inquiry also exonerated gardaí over claims they coerced confessions from the Hayes family.
The parents or killer of the baby found on the beach have never been found but ominously, his grave has been repeatedly attacked over the years.
5. Moss Moore
Moss Moore, a farmer from Reamore in Co. Kerry, left a neighbour’s house on the evening of November 6, 1958. His own house was less than a mile away but en route he was strangled and beaten, while his body was left in a stream.
Although it was 10 days before the 46-year-old’s body was found, the finger of suspicion immediately pointed to his neighbour, Dan Foley. The pair had fallen out after Foley erected a fence on a small strip of land between their properties.
When Moore wasn’t seen for two days, his friends contacted gardaí to report him murdered, such was their conviction of Foley’s guilt. Graffiti daubed on a local creamery called for businesses to boycott Foley’s farm produce, signs were posted threatening him and people refused to speak to him. A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions but there was insufficient evidence for a conviction.
As he struggled to sell his produce, was shunned by friends and with the finger of suspicion constantly on him, Foley dropped dead four years after the murder. His nephew John, who maintains his uncle was innocent, believes the strain of being ostracised contributed to his uncle’s death.
The story was the inspiration for John B Keane’s play, The Field, later made into a film starring Richard Harris.
6. Raonaid Murray
On Friday, September 3, 1999 at 9pm, Raonaid Murray went with a friend to a pub in Dun Laoghaire after work. At 11.20pm, having made plans to meet her friend at a nightclub later that night, the 17-year-old left the pub and headed towards her home in Glenageary to change clothes and pick up some money. The walk should have taken Murray around 15 minutes.
Just 500 yards from her home, Murray was stabbed 31 times. Her body was found just after 12.30am by her sister and friends. The murder weapon has never been found.
Gardaí continue to appeal for information and urge anyone protecting the killer to come forward. One theory is that Murray was attacked by a woman who had a grudge against her, after female DNA found under her fingernail did not match any of her female friends.
7. Eileen Costello-O’Shaughnessy
On November 30, 1997, Galway taxi driver Eileen Costello-O’Shaughnessy was coming to the end of her shift when she contacted the depot just after 8pm to say she had a fare to Claregalway, 10 miles north of the city.
It was the last time anyone heard from the 47-year-old. The following morning her body was found on a country road known as Tinker’s Lane. The mother-of-two had been beaten to death and her skull shattered.
Costello-O’Shaughnessy’s taxi was spotted abandoned on the outskirts of Galway city around 9pm the previous evening, about an hour after she had last contacted her depot. When gardaí were called to the abandoned car around midnight, they discovered the car seat covered in blood.
The meter gave a reading of 17 miles, roughly the distance from Galway to Tinker’s Lane and back again — Eileen’s killer had presumably driven her blood-stained car back to Galway after dumping her body.
In the weeks before and after the murder, Costello-O’Shaughnessy’s mother received anonymous silent phone calls, as well as a call following her daughter’s death during which a crying woman repeatedly said she was sorry.
8. Dessie Fox
Bookmaker Dessie Fox was travelling from his home in Co. Tyrone to The Curragh for a race meeting on September 30, 1990, when he was ambushed by an armed gang at Healy’s Bridge in Properous, 15 miles from his destination. Their intention was robbery as Fox was carrying £20,000 with him for his job as an on-course bookie.
Fox's Mercedes was forced to stop by two other vehicles and during the robbery he was shot in the thigh. Unfortunately the bullet severed an artery and Fox bleed to death.
Gardaí arrested and questioned 17 people at the time and interviewed 1,500 people. In 2010 Fox’s daughter Lorna O’Mahony helped launch a garda appeal for information about the death of the father of three, but his murderers have still to be brought to justice.
9. Antoinette Smith
On July 11, 1987, Antoinette Smith travelled from her home in Clondalkin, Dublin to the neighbouring county of Meath to see David Bowie at Slane. After the gig, the 27-year-old mother-of-two returned to Dublin where she visited La Mirage nightclub in the city centre. She left at 2.15am and was last seen on O’Connell Street 15 minutes later.
Nine months later Smith's body was discovered in a shallow grave in the Dublin Mountains. She had been raped and strangled while her head was reportedly covered with a plastic bag.
Gardaí revived the case in 2013. They want to speak to two men, then in their 20s, who got a taxi with a young woman matching Smith’s description an hour after the last confirmed sighting.
The trio claimed they were going to a house party and were dropped off in the Rathfarnham area, at the foot of the Dublin Mountains. Two men were also spotted coming down from the mountains around 5.30am and were conspicuous as they were not dressed for hill-walking.
10. Sophie Toscan du Plantier
French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier fell in love with the rugged landscape of Ireland but the country would be where she met her savage death.
The 39-year-old mother-of-one flew into Cork on December 20, 1996 for a brief stay at her a holiday home outside Schull, planning to return to France for Christmas. However on the morning of December 23, Toscan du Plantier’s body was discovered by a neighbour at the end of a pathway that led to her house.
Toscan du Plantier had been beaten beyond recognition; her right cheek, an eye socket and her fingers were broken, her lower lip was torn and there was a boot mark on her neck.
Journalist Ian Bailey was arrested twice, in 1997 and 1998, over the murder. Local shopkeeper Marie Farrell claimed she saw Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge near Toscan du Plantier’s home at 3am on the night of the murder, while 14-year-old Malachi Reid told gardaí that Bailey confessed to the murder while giving him a lift.
However Bailey, who has maintained his innocence, claimed Reid misunderstood him while he was describing the allegations against him, and Farrell has since retracted her claims, saying she was coerced by gardaí. Bailey, who willingly provided DNA samples, claimed gardaí conspired to implicate him in the murder.
In 2012, Bailey successfully appealed against an extradition order after a French magistrate issued a European Arrest Warrant. A second warrant was issued in March 2017.
In March 2015, a High Court jury dismissed Bailey's claims of conspiracy against the Gardaí and the State. He appealed the decision, with the Court of Appeal reserving judgement in March 2017.