Two rural communities are in a state of shock this morning after the violent deaths of seven people, four of whom were young children, in unrelated incidents in Cork and Limerick.
In Newcastle West in Co.Limerick a five-month-old girl, a three-year-old boy, their mother and a family friend were stabbed to death. One man is being questioned in relation to the fatalities. It is understood the suspect was arrested while he was drinking in a pub in Kilkee.
A further incident emerged in Ballycotton in Co. Cork when 43-year-old John Butler crashed his car into a tree just outside the village at around 9.45am. He died when the vehicle burst into flames. His wife Una had left the family home at Ballybraher early that morning for her job in Cork city. The couple had two young daughters.
When Mrs Butler heard of the news of the crash she attempted to ring her husbands mobile phone but got no answer. She then rang a relative who proceeded to go to the Butler family home with another family member.
They family members then discovered the bodies of six-year-old Zoe and her two-year-old sister Ella in a downstairs room. They immediately notified the police. The two children were still in their pajamas and it is expected postmortem results will show they were strangled.
It later emerged that Mr Butler had purchased a five-gallon drum of petrol at a garage in Shanagarry at about 9am that morning. The container was discovered in the charred remains of his vehicle.
Police are attempting to establish whether Mr Butler doused the inside of his car in petrol before crashing the vehicle in an apparent suicide.
The father of two had worked in Irish Steel in the past, but recently was working occasionally in construction due to the downturn. Reports suggest he had suffered from depression in the past.
In the separate incident in Limerick, just before 2pm yesterday, the bodies of Sarah Hynes (25) and her two children Reese (3) and five-mon th-old baby Amy were discovered at a house in the Hazelgrove estate Gortboy, in Newcastle West.
The body of Ms Hines's friend, Alicia Brough (21) from Rockchapel was also found in the house. All four victims had been stabbed to death. The women were found in a room downstairs, while the two children were found in an upstairs bedroom.
At around 4o'clock yesterday afternoon, a 31-year-old man was arrested in a bar in the seaside town of Kilkee in Co.Clare on suspicion of all four murders. It is believed he was known to both adult victims.
It is understood the suspect had phoned a retired policeman yesterday afternoon informing him of the incident, the former police officer then contacted police at Newcastle West.
Upon being informed local police went straight to the house where the bodies were discovered. The police then traced the suspects phone call to a public pay phone in Kilkee and after an extensive search of the area, found him drinking in a pub and arrested him.
Last night he was being questioned in Limerick's Henry Street police station about the killings.
The state pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy is due to visit the murder scene in Hazel Grove this morning.