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A gentle Sligo man whose cruel killing remains unsolved

On 6 May 1998, 83-year-old Eddie Fitzmaurice was found dead having been bound, gagged and beaten in a bedroom above his drapery shop in Bellaghy, Co Sligo. No one has ever been charged in connection with his death despite an extensive and still-ongoing garda investigation. Here, North West Correspondent Eileen Magnier reflects on the 25-year mystery of his death.


Every journey generates a memory in this job, some good, some bad.

I spend a lot of time on the road all over the northwest and sometimes beyond, and there is hardly a road I travel on that does not bring me back to a story I have covered or a person I have met over the years.

Some of those stories never leave you, often because they have still not been resolved.

Last summer, as I headed to Co Mayo to cover Reek Sunday at Croagh Patrick, I thought again of a man called Eddie Fitzmaurice as I drove through Charlestown-Bellahy on the Sligo-Mayo border.

I think of him every time I drive through Bellaghy.

However, I never met Eddie – sadly he was dead when he came to my attention.

When I first heard about him, I was working in Letterkenny in Co Donegal. I got a call telling me that an elderly man had been found dead in his home in Bellaghy.

That was 6 May 1998 and Eddie had been found dead in an upstairs bedroom over his drapery shop.

It was his good neighbours who found Eddie.

No one has ever been charged in connection with his death despite an extensive and still-ongoing garda investigation which has seen more than 800 statements taken and a number of arrests made down the years.

They had become concerned for him because he had not been seen for a few days and one of them managed to get in through a back window of his home to look for him.

Although I did not see it, the scene is like a vivid picture in my mind.

Eddie had been found tied up and was only partially clothed. His hands were tied behind his back and his feet too were tied.

His body was found lying face up on the floor.

There was evidence of a burglary on the premises where Eddie, who was 83, lived over the shop.

25 years on, the inquest into his death was finally completed at Sligo Courthouse in June just gone, and it concluded that he had been unlawfully killed by a person or persons unknown.

The story of Eddie Fitzmaurice is not over, however.

No one has ever been charged in connection with his death despite an extensive and still-ongoing garda investigation which has seen more than 800 statements taken and a number of arrests made down the years.

“Do the decent thing, search your conscience and hopefully we will find someone.”

Preparing to cover the inquest, I pulled out the reports we did at the time of Eddie’s death. It was so sad to see the hearse and garda tape around the front of his home on the main street with then-State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy and the garda forensic team going inside in their white overalls to examine the scene.

Dr Cassidy’s report for the inquest painted a tragic end to the life of a man much loved by his family and his community.

He had suffered a number of blows to his head, but Dr Cassidy said that his attackers had left him alive and probably conscious, bound and gagged and he had probably tried to get help by moving across the floor towards the window of the bedroom.

The window was open, but Eddie was in such a vulnerable position, tied up and without food or water, that she said he would have succumbed to the cold, become hypothermic and then lapsed into unconsciousness and died.

Eddie had last been seen alive on the evening of Friday 1 May 1998 when he was in his usual good form.

It is not known when the attackers entered his home, but Dr Cassidy said he could have remained alive for several days and it is likely that he died on the afternoon of 5 Tuesday May.

Eddie’s daughter Valerie Snee travelled from England to attend the inquest

Eddie’s daughter Valerie Snee had travelled from England for the inquest and, sitting with other family members, she cried in the courtroom as she heard the details of her father’s last days.

Afterwards she told me it had been very hard to listen to.

Her father had suffered a horrible death, she said, and like the gardaí investigating his death, she believes there are still people out there with information about what happened and who is responsible.

“Do the decent thing, search your conscience and hopefully we will find someone,” she appealed.

The streetscape has changed a lot since 1998 and Eddie’s house and shop have been replaced by new homes, but I remember well his lovely old shopfront and I never travel that road without thinking of him.

As I drive, I think too of Valerie’s words, and I wonder too about those who were responsible for Eddie’s death and about the people around them.

Do they ever think of Eddie? How do they live with themselves knowing what happened to this gentle, defenceless man?

It may now be a quarter of a century since he died but he has not been forgotten and hopefully, someday soon, someone will do the right thing and tell what really happened to Eddie Fitzmaurice.


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