An 84-year-old man lay dead at his home in Cork for up to seven months, an inquest into his death has heard.

Richie Scanlon, of Madden's Buildings on the city's northside, was found dead on 19 July last.

His sister and nephew let themselves in to the property and raised the alarm when they found his body on the floor.

Mr Scanlon was in a decomposed state. The decomposition of the body was accelerated by the fact that an electric heater was still switched on at the house.

Cork City Coroner Philip Comyn said it was "disheartening" that the absence of Mr Scanlon from day-to-day life was not noted sooner.

"It seems very strange that a man didn't collect his pension and that didn't trigger any alarm bells. The fact that he was a man of routine who went to the pub twice a week and went to the bookies. I find it troubling that in this age of mass communication this poor gentleman appeared to have slipped through the cracks."

Mr Comyn acknowledged that the family had done the best they could for the lifelong bachelor given the reclusive nature of the deceased.

Mr Scanlon had been cared for by a sister for many years. When she died in 2001 the family tried to maintain contact with him.

Denis Cronin, a nephew of the pensioner, told the Coroner's Court that his uncle was an intensely private man.

He last saw him on Christmas Eve 2018.

"He (Ritchie) kept himself to himself. From a family perspective he wouldn't have attended weddings. He didn't like a fuss."

Mr Cronin said that his uncle did not want to take help from outsiders and declined to engage with the Meals On Wheels service.

It was not unusual for him to go long periods without contacting his family and his relatives would always have to initiate the conversation.

Mr Cronin does not live in Cork. However, he visited his uncle at Christmas and in the summer. He said that his uncle liked horse racing and going to the pub and that the bookies and the pub were his social outlets.

Mr Cronin said he was worried about his uncle when he visited him on 24 December last because he had an ulcer on his leg.

Mr Scanlon reassured his nephew that he was getting the ulcer dressed and that he was able to go to the doctor by taxi. He added that his uncle did not want outside assistance.

Another nephew, Joe O'Mahony, said he went to the property with his mother at 11.30am on 19 June last. He let himself in with a key and found Mr Scanlon dead on the floor.

Garda Eric Stafford who attended at the scene said there was no sign of forced entry into the house. The post had built up, with the earliest unopened letter dating back to 9 January, and an electric heater was still on.

The house was without a landline and Mr Scanlon refused to have a mobile phone. His last prescription fill was on 17 December 2018 and his first missed pension was recorded on 4 January last.

Garda Stafford said that neighbours told him that Mr Scanlon lived a reclusive lifestyle and they did not view it as unusual that he was not about.

His body was removed to the morgue at Cork University Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said she was unable to ascertain a cause of death because the body was in such an advanced state of decomposition. An open verdict was recorded in the case.

Sergeant Fergus Twomey and Coroner Philip Comyn extended their sympathy to the family following their tragic loss.

Sgt Twomey commended investigating Garda Stafford for his professionalism and sensitivity following his arrival at a "disturbing scene."

He also thanked the fire brigade for their assistance on the day.

Mr Scanlon was originally from the Gouldings and Thomas Davis Street area of Cork but had lived at Madden's Buildings for many years.

Following his death the Cork-based service Friendly Call urged anyone isolated or lonely to sign up to its free daily call service which checks in on people over the phone.

It also has a system in place to check up on someone who does not answer the daily call.


Friendly Call can be contacted on 021-4301700.