Murdered pensioner’s grieving family still suffer flashbacks

January 7, 2019

A decade on from the brutal murder of Newry pensioner Maire Rankin on Christmas Day 2008, her family have spoken of their sadness at the cruel loss of the 81 year old mother-of-eight and how they still suffer flashbacks to the “dark days after her murder”.

Speaking to the Newry Reporter last week, Maire’s daughter Brenda said she is still saddened that her mother did not live to see her seven great-grandchildren but she says the family choose to celebrate how their mother lived and not dwell on how she died. 

The elderly grandmother was killed in the early hours of Christmas morning in 2008 in a frenzied attack during which she sustained serious head injuries and 15 broken ribs. She  had planned to spend Christmas Day with Brenda’s family but, suffering from a chest infection, she insisted on staying in her own bed on Christmas Eve.

The pensioner had also been sexually assaulted with a crucifix that hung above her bed.  It later transpired that her killer, neighbour Karen Walsh, had sexually molested her in order to make it look as if an intruder had broken in.  The Dublin pharmacist was convicted of the murder and jailed for a minimum of 20 years in October 2011.

Ten years on, Maire’s daughter Brenda admits she thought she would never get over her mother’s horrific murder and that flashbacks are a regular occurence over the Christmas period.  She says she has done her best to move on and “be as strong as possible with the help of family and friends”.

Brenda says family togetherness has helped her and her seven siblings get through the traumatic experience and that they celebrate and remember the way their mother lived, with “joy and laughter”.

Karen Walsh, the next door neighbour of Mrs Rankin, was convicted of the horrific murder.

 “We all miss mummy very much, but life has gone on in our family. Over the past year alone there have been two family weddings and four births, times when we have come together as a family to celebrate happy events.

“These occasions remind me of what our family life was like growing up. I was blessed to be raised in a house full of love and laughter.”

The grieving daughter said it was “a great tribute” to both her parents that the Rankin family survived the tragedy and found the courage and strength to carry on.

She added that it was particularly sad her mother had not lived to meet any of her seven great-grandchildren but she said it was important to her family to “pass on the lovely memories of mummy and daddy to their grandchildren and great grandchildren, keeping their spirit alive in a positive way”.

“For us it’s more important to celebrate the way mummy lived her life rather that dwell on the way she died,” she added.

Newry pensioner Maire Rankin pictured with her sons and daughters. The 80-year-old was murdered in her Newry home on Christmas Eve 2008.