Verdict of suicide returned in inquest into priest's death

Thursday 30 January 2014 18.30
The inquest in Ballina heard Fr Muredach Tuffy (centre) was an extremely popular and well-liked priest
The inquest in Ballina heard Fr Muredach Tuffy (centre) was an extremely popular and well-liked priest

A verdict of death by suicide has been returned at the inquest into the death of a priest in Co Mayo in October 2012.

Fr Murdeach Tuffy, 39, was a Catholic curate in Ballina.

The inquest heard he was an extremely popular and well-liked priest, who made a lasting impression on those he worked with during his time in the town.

His body was discovered in the basement car park of the Newman Institute beside Ballina Cathedral on the morning of 30 October 2012.

Maintenance worker Gerard Hughes told the Coroner's Court that when he arrived to work on the morning in question, an emergency door to the building had been left propped open by a small drum of water.

Supt Gerry Donnelly told Coroner Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald that all the indications were that Fr Tuffy had left the door open on purpose.

The inquest heard that Fr Tuffy was in perfect health and had no history of any illness, apart from high blood pressure.

Dr Fitzgerald said that in reaching her verdict she felt it was important to dispel any rumour or suspicion that surrounded the death.

She said on the basis of evidence available it was her view that Fr Tuffy intended to take his own life.

It was a cause of regret that there was no answer or reason as to why he arrived at the decision, she said.

She extended her sympathies to the priest's family and also to the Bishop of Killala, John Fleming, who attended this morning's inquest.

Bishop Fleming paid tribute to Fr Tuffy saying he was a deeply dedicated priest, a caring pastor, and a delightful companion to his many friends.

Dr Fleming said that for the last 15 months, family, friends, priests and parishoners had been trying to make sense of the death of Fr Tuffy.

He said today's inquest confirmed there was no answer to the question of why he died.

Dr Fleming thanked people for the prayers and support they had offered in the months since Fr Tuffy's death.