Gardaí believe Killarney grandmother Miriam Burns was beaten to death in her house
17th August 2022
Gardaí fear Kerry grandmother Miriam Burns (75) was beaten to death in her home by someone known to her.
The revelation came as gardaí launched a murder investigation into the death of the mother of four, who was described as “Killarney’s smiling lady”.
Detectives arrested a man in his 50s within an hour of the murder investigation being confirmed.
The man – who was detained in the south Kerry area – was taken to Killarney garda station where he was held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and can be questioned for up to 24 hours.
He was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Defence solicitor Padraig O’Connell attended the garda station and will act for the man.
Gardaí last night refused to release the findings of a post-mortem examination for operational reasons, but confirmed they were now treating the pensioner’s death as murder.
“A post-mortem examination was conducted on Tuesday at University Hospital Kerry (UHK) by State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster, the results of which are not being released for operational reasons,” a garda spokesperson said.
“An incident room has been established at Killarney garda station and a murder investigation has commenced under the direction of a senior in-
“A family liaison officer has been appointed and continues to keep the family informed of the investigation.
“Gardaí are appealing to any persons who were in the Ardshanavooly area of Killarney between 5pm on Friday, August 12, and 1pm on Monday, August 15, and observed any activity which drew their attention to come forward.”
Emotional tributes were paid to Ms Burns, who was hailed by shocked friends and neighbours as “Killarney’s smiling lady”.
Some residents of the Ardshanavooly estate on the outskirts of the town wept openly as they recalled an elegant, kind-hearted woman who had a smile for everyone.
Ms Burns was discovered dead in a front room of her two-storey terraced home at lunchtime on Monday.
Neighbours had called to the house after one of her children, who lives overseas, became concerned at being unable to contact her.
They were horrified to discover her body with visible injuries and immediately rang gardaí.
Officers and paramedics raced to the scene, but it is believed Ms Burns had been dead for some time.
Garda sources said they were immediately suspicious about the nature of Ms Burns’s injuries and whether they could have been sustained as a result of an accidental fall. She was discovered with dried blood clearly visible around her head and face. It is believed she was the victim of an assault.
Detectives are now trying to confirm her last known movements.
Local sources indicated that Ms Burns – who was very active in a number of Killarney-based groups – had not been seen since last Friday evening.
One garda source said a central element of the investigation would be trying to determine precisely when the pensioner died.
Detectives are also trying to confirm who may have had contact with her in the hours before her death.
There was no sign of forced entry at the terraced house.
Door-to-door enquiries were carried out in an area described by locals as a very quiet residential part of
CCTV footage from the area, which is close to a Tesco shopping centre and a McDonald’s outlet, is expected to prove crucial in the investigation.
Ms Burns lived for most of her adult life in the Ardshanavooly area, but is understood to be originally from nearby Milltown. She is from a large and highly respected family in south Kerry.
She was known as an avid gardener, and particularly for the roses she grew.
Councillor Donal Grady, who lives in Ardshanavooly, paid tribute to Ms Burns, whom he knew personally and described as “a wonderful mother and grandmother”.
“The smiling lady is gone. This is a big loss to Killarney,” he said.
“She had a kind word for everyone. She had a smile for everyone – but now that smile is gone.
“This is a very close town. Everyone knows everyone else here and her loss will be felt very deeply.”
Ms Burns had lived in the mature housing estate since the 1970s and was known for her involvement in community groups and her preference for cycling to destinations around Killarney town.
Neighbours said they would see her on her bicycle around the estate and the town centre nearly every day.
Neighbour Ann Cronin said it was “a desperate tragedy” for the estate, the family and the entire Killarney community.
“She really was a lovely person,” she said. “She was very good to her family, her friends and her neighbours. Everyone feels desperate, to be honest.”
Neighbour Paul O’Shea fought back tears at the news of her death.
“It is terrible, really terrible,” he said.
“She was a lovely, lovely lady. She had a kind word for everyone she met. It is hurting.”
Ardshanavooly resident Tom Wharton said Ms Burns always had a cheery wave and a warm smile for her neighbours.
“It is such a sad, sad story,” he said.
“It’s a desperate thing to happen, especially to such a nice lady.”
Councillor Niall O’Callaghan said Ms Burns “was a very elegant lady and a kind-hearted person”.