By David Hennessy
This Saturday 13 August, it is five years since 21-year- old Joe Deacy of the St Colmcilles GAA club in St. Alban’s died tragically while on holiday in Mayo.
It has been five years without justice as to this day no one has been charged.
To mark the occasion this Saturday will see a special memorial football match between The Hammers and St Colmcilles at the Connacht GAA Air Dome in Co Mayo.
A yearly match in Joe’s honour has been played every year since his passing.
However, this will be the first time it will be played in Mayo since the first anniversary of his death in 2018.
Joe’s father Adrian told The Irish World the occasion will be tough but that he and everyone who loved Joe will continue in their fight for justice as long as it takes.
Adrian said: “The boys who play, they always said if we had to do it up to year five, they’d like to take it over there for year five.
“That’s why we’re going this year. The boys wanted to make more of an impact being the fifth anniversary.”
A small number of Joe’s relatives and friends will also walk to the spot where Joe was found.
“The match is tough but it’s not as solemn as the walk.
“The majority of the emotion will be on the walk.
“I mean, the whole day will be a nightmare for me anyway because it falls on his anniversary.
“Wherever I am, wherever I would be, it would have been a nightmare. It just so happens that it’s in Ireland this time.
“It’s never going to get any easier.
“He’s always going to be dead.
“He’s always going to be my murdered son.
“But it would be nice if there was some justice.
“I dread the thought of going back there.
“But I’m not going on the walk.
“Charlotte, Alison and I are going over.
“We’re not going on the walk. We’re not going up to that house.
“I did it once and I still remember it like it was yesterday.
“Joe was loved by everyone. My brothers and sisters are going and they are going on the walk.
“They detest it. They go every year but it’s a horrendous thing.
“They absolutely can’t stand it. But they have to do it to show their support and highlight the fact that his murderers are still walking the streets in Mayo.”
Joe Deacy was on holiday when he was found with head injuries outside a house in Swinford, Co. Mayo, at 6.30am on 12 August 2017.
He died the following day at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital.
The inquest into Joe’s killing can not take place until the Garda investigation concludes.
Gardai believe three people have knowledge of Joe’s death.
During the night he was murdered, Joe had spoken with his cousin on social media at 3.45am after a night out.
Detectives believe he was attacked following this call. He was found lying outside the property at 6am by a cyclist.
Only one of the three main “persons of interest” was arrested. The other two were questioned but did not provide any information.
However while people with information don’t come forward the family’s torment goes on.
How can these people live with themselves? “That’s the $64,000 question, how can they live with themselves?
“They do, without a care in the world.
“They’re still engaged in the local GAA scene.
“I’m only going on what I’m hearing from my cousins who live over there, and they thought they didn’t have a care in the world.
“I know, obviously, when the curtains are shut at night, it might be a different picture.
“But the outward image they present is no worries in the world.
“How they live with themselves, I don’t know.
“And the ironic thing is it would be manslaughter.
“If they had owned up, they would be out of prison in a couple years from now, they wouldn’t have got that long a sentence.
“We thought someone would say something.
“It’s a very tight knit group of people who may be responsible for this, we thought maybe they would tell someone and then that someone would tell someone else.
“And once you tell someone, the ripple effect would spread and then hopefully we thought someone would tell someone and then that someone would tell the police.
“But apparently not.”
Gardai have been unable to establish a motive for the murder or what happened to Joe between 4am and when he was found.
“No one knows,” Adrian says.
“There was an hour and a half.
“Everyone knows what happened up to half four in the morning.
“He was on social media with his cousins joking away.
“And then half six or whatever the guy’s cycling past and raised the alarm.
“There is an hour and a half there. The coppers call it the black hole.
“I don’t know how far they have discovered what’s in the black hole yet or if they’re just the same as they were five years ago.
“No one knows what happened.
“Obviously some people do, but they’re not telling.
“You’re hoping something will touch someone’s conscience somewhere, that’s all you can hope for.
“And with the match going to Mayo, it brings it closer to home for these people.
“They might see us in local papers and think, ‘It’s not going away’.
“That’s all we can hope for.”
Although there is support from Ireland as well, the family have encountered some opposition to their campaign.
“The support in the local village hasn’t been fantastic.
“In the local, rural communities, there is a part of people that are saying, ‘I wish this would all go away’.
“We’ve encountered some of that as well.
“I mean, genuine decent people wherever you are in the world would want to see justice.
“Getting it is the hard part.
“But it will be interesting to see how many other people are going (to the match) from the local community.”
Adrian says the family have had their hopes raised and then dashed by the Garda over the five years.
“They were saying, ‘Yeah, we’re doing our best, we’re doing this, that and other’.
“So you would walk out of there with renewed hope.
“And then you would wait another six months and the hope would go down because you haven’t heard from them.
“We’d ask for another meeting and they’d say, ‘Well, actually, nothing’s happened. We’re still doing this, that and the other’.
“And then eventually, it was, ‘We haven’t got sufficient evidence to charge anyone’.
“So we thought that would be the end of it, we would have the inquest.
“They then changed the investigation team.”
Hopefully they can get somewhere..
“We’re now five years down the line, and you’re repeating exactly where I’m at: Hopefully. That’s all we can, hope.
“You’re never going to give up hope.
“We will never give up trying for him.”
While they now get updated by the Garda, this has not always been the case.
“The first three and a half years: Shambolic.
“Now whether that was because we were in England and they were in Ireland and thought, ‘Tough sh*t, I don’t know’.
“But honestly you couldn’t make it up how poor they were.
“You know you read whenever God forbid people get murdered over here and police are comforting the relatives or liaising or whatever? That never happened.
“We never had any sort of police liaison officer at all.
“Couldn’t make it up how ridiculous it is.
“It doesn’t really matter. If I was looking for support, I wouldn’t necessarily go to the police looking for support anyway.”
Adrian says the St Colmcille’s Club have been tremendous in their support of the family ever since it happened.
“They have been magnificent.
“They are unreal. They have been unbelievable from day one.
“I don’t remember because obviously it’s a bit of a fog to me, but from their involvement in the funeral and what they did to this day still, they are unbelievable.
“Joe played football and he went there off his own back because I have never played Gaelic in my life.
“I think he just decided he wanted to go when he was 16 and he loved it, the game but he equally loved the social aspect.
“He absolutely adored it.
“Colmcilles, I can’t ever speak highly enough of them.
“Obviously there’s a lot of them going over next weekend.
“I don’t think they’re the greatest football team in the world.
“Without a doubt they must be the greatest for the support they’ve given.”
Although Adrian hopes there does not have to be another match in five years’ time because some justice has been delivered, the family will go on looking for justice as long as it takes.
“There’s not a hope in Hell, it wouldn’t enter anyone’s mind to give up.
“It’s not a battle because there is no other option.
“There is no other alternative, end of story.
“It’s a real emotional wrench anyway but this year I’m dreading it.
“Please God if they get someone, the lads might have a match just to celebrate but we won’t be doing the walk if they get someone.
“As long as the current situation stays as it is then yeah, it definitely will continue.”
Throw- in for the memorial game will be at 3.20pm this Saturday 13 August with the memorial walk starting with N5 Kinaffe turning at 12pm.