A post-mortem examination has ruled out foul play in the death of a man whose body may have been in a derelict house in Mallow, County Cork, for more than two decades.

The body was discovered at around noon yesterday by Cork County Council staff when they were clearing the house on Beecher Street in the town.

The cottage had been derelict and boarded up for a number of years.

The skeletal remains were taken to Cork University Hospital.

The Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, conducted a post-mortem examination on the man's body this morning, following which gardaí are satisfied that foul play was not a factor in his death.

It has not been possible to establish the man's identity or when he died, but items recovered by gardaí during an examination of the house indicate the man's body may have lain there undiscovered for more than 20 years.

The focus of the garda investigation will now be on establishing the man's identity.

Gardaí will also prepare a file for the local coroner, who will decide whether an inquest should be held into the man's death.

Beecher Street is close to the railway station in Mallow. Local people there believe they know the man's identity.

They believe the body is that of a reclusive man who lived at the cottage and who, it had been presumed, had moved away from the area many years ago.

"Beecher Street is a lovely, old community," local Labour Party County Councillor James Kennedy told RTÉ News.

Cllr Kennedy has lived all his life in Mallow. His home is around a kilometre from Beecher Street.

"People there are very sad and upset about this," he said. "Hopefully the man will get a proper burial now, which he deserves.

"It is a rare thing to happen, to be in a house for so long, but it does happen. People are in shock, really.

"I think some people thought he might have gone to England. It's a tragedy. People are really upset and devastated. By all accounts, he was a gentleman and a very quiet man."

A single bouquet of flowers rested against the front door of the boarded-up house on Beecher Street today.