Timothy (Timmy) Hourihane, who was from West Cork, was murdered in a “tented village” in Cork city.
Mr Hourihane was found unconscious by members of Cork Fire Brigade. Other homeless people had raised the alarm after a tent went on fire at Mardyke Walk near University College Cork at 12.45am today.
The tent owned by Mr Hourihane was pitched on grass across the road from the Western Road entrance to the college. Members of the fire brigade found him a short distance away.
He had been assaulted and had sustained extremely serious injuries to his head and body. He was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital where he died.
Christina Chalmers of the Helping Cork’s Homeless charity said Mr Hourihane had worked as a chef in a number of prestigious restaurants in Britain and had cooked for a number of celebrities.
Ms Chalmers said she was in total shock at his death, but wanted to pay tribute to Mr Hourihane.
“I’m lost for words. He was the warmest, kindest man. He never caused anyone any hassle. He was so kind to other homeless people. He was great fun. One year he ran in the mini-marathon for charity dressed up as a woman. That was Timmy,” she said.
Ms Chalmers said that Mr Hourihane was an extremely talented chef who struggled with alcoholism. His troubles really began almost a decade ago, when his partner died.
“Timmy nursed his partner Michael, who had cancer. Timmy lived by the train station and used to walk up and down twice a day to the hospital. When he died that is when the addiction kicked in. Timmy was a top chef in England.
“He served Elton John and Lionel Richie. He loved his food. We would go to the Market Lane restaurant with him sometimes and he knew his food and dressed well for going there.
“I want him to be remembered for who he was. He watched out for vulnerable homeless people. My family all loved him. We are devastated,” she said.
In an interview with Irish Times on Christmas day in 2017 Mr Hourihane said that year was his best festive season in many a year.
He was among the diners at Penny Dinners, which provides meals to homeless people in Cork city.
He said he was grateful to sit alongside his fellow homeless people for a special meal provided by the River Lee Hotel in Cork city.
Mr Hourihane spoke of his addiction to alcohol. He said he had battled through periods of sobriety only to see his life derailed by relapses.
“I stayed off alcohol for a year and a quarter and I was proud of that. At least I am trying. I was on the Simon floor last evening, but we were out at seven this morning.
“I went to Mass this morning at the church down the road at half eight. I went to the Polish Mass last night. There was a beautiful woman who prayed for me. It was fantastic.
“This is relaxing and I feel safe. This is my happiest day for a long time. Because I went to the church. Because I came here. People are lovely.”
Mr Hourihane spoke of going around in “circles forever” looking for accommodation.
He mentioned his sense of loss following the death of homeless woman Kathleen O’Sullivan (43) on the streets of Cork earlier that month.
“Homelessness is out of control. I knew Kathleen O’Sullivan, the woman who died (on the streets of Cork) earlier this month. She had a good heart for me.
“When you sleep on the streets you are lucky to wake up with your trainers still on. It has happened to me where I have woken up with one trainer missing. You have to laugh, cos you think ‘Why didn’t they take the two?'”
Mr Hourihane praised Caitriona Twomey, who runs Penny Dinners, saying that she had “the most beautiful heart in Cork city.”
Ms Twomey said she was deeply saddened by the death of Mr Hourihane.
She says this was a warning to the Government that they needed to do more to tackle the crisis.
“We need to sort it now. We need more treatment centres. We need more housing. We need more support.”
Former Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Mick Finn called for urgent assistance for the homeless in the wake of Mr Hourihane’s murder.
Cllr Finn said that this was “terrible and shocking news”.
“I am calling for an urgent state response to the living situation of the homeless. It is frightening that we have another murder in our area. It really underpins calls for more gardaí on the beat in Cork.”
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster carried out a preliminary examination of the scene at Mardyke Walk. A postmortem was carried out at CUH.
Gardaí have started interviewing other people living in the area where tents have sprung up in recent months.
Individuals living in the area are from Ireland, England and Eastern Europe. There is no known motive for the assault and the area is without CCTV.
Supt Michael Comyns of Anglesea Street in Cork held a media briefing at the site of the murder.
He said that witnesses raised the alarm, reporting that a tent was on fire and a man unconscious.
“Gardaí arrived at the scene and a man was taken by ambulance to the CUH where a short time afterwards he was pronounced dead,” he said. “
As a result of our inquiries from there we set up an incident room. The man has injuries consistent with an assault. He does not have injuries consistent with being in a fire.”
Supt Comyns appealed for witnesses to the incident to come forward.
“In this area at night there are a lot of people on foot around here and traffic. We are appealing for anyone who was in the area from 11pm to 1am to contact us and particularly if they saw anything of a suspicious nature or anything at all really to contact us.
“It is an homicide investigation. For operational reasons we are not going to release information on the injuries, but he does not injuries consistent with being assaulted.”
Supt Comyns said they were hoping to receive dashcam footage from passing taxi drivers and motorists.
“In this area there are a lot of guest houses as well and there may have been people staying in the guest houses from outside of Cork city who would have checked out probably this morning and we would ask them to contact us.”
Gardaí are appealing to persons who were in the Mardyke Walk area between 12 midnight and 1am this morning (Sunday) and who may have witnessed any activity in the area or any motorists who may have passed through Mardyke Walk around these times and have dashcam footage to contact Anglesea Garda Station on 021 -4522000, The Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.
Meanwhile in Lourdes, the Bishop of Cork & Ross, Bishop Fintan Gavin, has expressed his prayerful support for the family and friends of the man.
Bishop Gavin said, “It is always a tragedy when anyone dies but these are such sad and brutal circumstances. The tragic news has reached us in Lourdes where a pilgrimage from Cork & Ross is praying at Our Lady’s Shrine. I want to assure the man’s family and his friends, and all who knew him, that our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very sad time. May Our Lady of Lourdes reach out with healing and peace to all. ”
Separately, gardaí have released without charge a 46-year-old man held for questioning about a serious assault in the city centre last month which has left a 40-year-old man fighting for his life in hospital.
Detectives arrested a foreign national in the Mardyke area of the city around 7am on Friday. They brought him to Gurranabraher Garda Station on the north side of the city for questioning about the serious assault.
The man was held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. The arrest follows a serious assault near the Ulster Bank on Patrick Street at around 9.15pm on September 12 when a man availing of homeless services was injured during a soup run delivery.
The injured man – originally from Knocknaheeny in Cork, but who has been staying at the St Vincent’s Hostel off Anglesea Street – suffered serious head injuries following the incident and was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital (CUH).
The man, who was in a coma when ambulance personnel arrived at the scene to treat him, has not regained consciousness and remains in a critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit at CUH.
This content was originally published here.