Death of retired superintendent Pat Moriarty, the man who caught the Border Fox

The death has occured of retired Garda superintent Pat Moriarty of Nenagh, the man responsible for the capture of Dessie O’Hare, the Border Fox, at Urlingford in November 1987 following a shoot-out.

Supt Moriarty was well known throughout the area through his connections with Nenagh Golf Club, but it is his role in the capture of one of Ireland’s most wanted men during the Troubles that he he best known.

In October 1987, a gang kidnapped dentist John O’Grady, son-in-law of Dr Austin Darragh, director of the Insiitute of Irish Pharmacology, and demanded a ransom for his return.

Following a nationwide hunt during which Mr O’Grady had his two little fingers chopped off with a hammer and chisel, the suspects were eventually known to be heading to Cork to collect a ransom being brought there by Fr Brian Darcy, who was acting as an intermediary.

Some of the gang members were arrested near Cahir and held in Tipperary Garda station from which they made a dramatic escape, including one who wriggled out of his shirt to get away.

However, the gardai knew that O’Hare would be travelling in a green BMW car. They also knew its registration number and the road it would be travelling.

An armed checkpoint was set up near Urlingford and as the car came nearer it swerved. Dessie O’ Hare was driving with Martin Bryan in the passenger seat.

According to later reports, what happened next was that O’Hare let down the window and Supt Moriarty asked him: “How’s it going?” O’Hare nodded in reply and then told Supt Moriarty they were coming from Kilkenny.

However, Supt Moriarty did not recognise O’Hare, who was dressed in a grey suit and collar and tie and had blonde highlights.

Supt Moriarty began to question Martin Bryan who made no reply and was ordered out of the car.

Reports state that Bryan pretended to open the seat belt but produced a gun. An armed garda who was covering Supt Moriarty, recognised O’Hare and shouted to get him from the car.

The BMW went to speed away but soldiers and the gardai opened fire and the car came to a halt after it crashed into a joint Garda - Army roadblock

O’Hare pointed a gun out the window and started firing, grazing an army officer on the leg.

In total, the gardai and soldiers fired 36 shots at the car and eventually O’Hare slumped over towards Martin Bryan, who was dead. O’hare was later jailed for 30 years but was relesaed under the Good Friday Agreement.

Supt Moriarty, who is predeceased by his wife, Betty, is survived by daughter, Trish; grandsons David and Michael; sisters, Eileen and Betty; brother-in-law Paul; sister-in-law, Delia; nephews and nieces, cousins relatives and friends. He is reposing in Ryans funeral home, Nenagh, this Thursday from 5 pm, with removal at 7pm to arrive at St Mary of the Rosary Church, at 7.30pm. Requiem Mass on Friday at 12 noon followed by burial in Lisboney new cemetry.


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