Mr Quirke said his break-up with Mary Lowry was “not amicable” and that he was “very angry” when he found out she was seeing Bobby Ryan – whom he described as “happy-go-lucky”.
The trial at the Central Criminal Court heard that Mr Quirke gave three statements to gardaí after Mr Ryan went missing and following the discovery of his remains.
Farmer Mr Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Ryan, a DJ known as ‘Mr Moonlight’, on a date between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.
Detective Garda Martin Steed, of Tipperary garda station, told the trial he had taken a statement from Mr Quirke on June 21, 2011.
Mr Quirke described himself as “a farmer at Breansha” who was married to wife Imelda.
Since the death of Martin Lowry, he had been grazing the land at Fawnagowan, he said, adding that he had taken out a 10-year lease with a solicitor in 2008.
“Everything has worked out fine so far,” he said.
Recalling Friday, June 3, 2011, Mr Quirke said that he saw Mary Lowry “getting into the car with her children” at 8.45am. “I didn’t stop to talk to her because I was rushing,” he said.
He was only on the farm for 20 minutes before he returned home. At noon, he and his wife left for the Heritage hotel in Co Laois, he added.
Mr Quirke told Det Gda Steed that he had met Mr Ryan twice, recalling that in January, he, Imelda, Mary and Bobby went to see Brendan Grace in Clonmel.
The next time he met him was at Killough Quarry in early May, he said.
“I’d describe him as happy-go-lucky,” he said of Mr Ryan.
He did not believe he had ever spoken to him on the phone, he added.
“Mary seemed happy enough with him,” said Mr Quirke.
He said that some time in January, he had met Ms Lowry and Mr Ryan in Hayes’s Hotel in Thurles at Bobby’s request.
Garda Ciaran Keane said he had taken a further statement from Mr Quirke at Tipperary Town garda station on November 30, 2011. He had attended on a voluntary basis, he said.
In that statement, Mr Quirke said that he first began seeing Mary Lowry in January 2008 and that it was “off and on for a while”.
“When Martin [Lowry] died, a lot of things needed sorting on the farm,” he said.
“Myself and Mary knew there was no future in it.
“Our break-up wasn’t amicable,” he said.
She met Mr Ryan the previous year, he said, but added: “I found out there was more to it. I was very angry with her.”
On one occasion, he took her phone and saw text messages from Mr Ryan.
“I sent texts to Bobby from Mary’s phone. I don’t remember exactly what I said but basically ‘I was with Mary now’,” he told gardaí.
Mr Quirke said he had never spoken a “cross word” to Mr Ryan.
Ms Lowry told him that she wanted to finish with him and she had feelings for Mr Ryan.
“I still wanted to remain friends with her. I had told her things I never told anyone else,” he said.
However, he told gardaí that she wanted nothing more to do with him.
Ms Lowry told Mr Ryan about this fight, he said, and Mr Ryan had suggested meeting at Hayes’s Hotel, which they did in January.
He had travelled on his own to meet him and the encounter lasted “about an hour”, he said.
“I was in a bad place myself. I was getting counselling,” he told gardaí.
Mr Ryan had been “very sympathetic”, he said, noting that he had “gone through a break-up himself”.
Ms Lowry had been “very quiet” during the meeting, Mr Quirke said.
On December 15, 2010, he said Ms Lowry and her children had gone ice-skating in Cork with he and his wife.
“I was angry she had dismissed me” and they went their separate ways, he said.
Mr Quirke told gardaí then that he did not think he had ever seen Mr Ryan at Ms Lowry’s farm, though he had seen his van on St Patrick’s Day.
When Mr Ryan went missing, he said that he and his wife were away and he heard the news from Imelda.
He went searching for him on the morning of the bank holiday in the woods “all the way to Bansha”, and on another occasion with Ms Lowry and her brother.
In March 2013, Mr Quirke gave a cautioned voluntary statement to gardaí at Tipperary garda station after he was seen on CCTV footage around Ms Lowry’s home at Fawnagowan on December 3, 2012 – which has previously been shown to the jury.
Mr Quirke explained to gardaí that he went into his mother-in-law Rita Lowry’s house to turn on the heating as she was away.
He then rang Ms Lowry’s house as he had a “letter to give her”, Mr Quirke said, but no one answered and her car was not there.
He said he went over to the post box and opened it but did not believe there were any letters inside. Mr Quirke told gardaí that there was some women’s underwear on the clothesline.
“I looked at the label on the underwear as I was curious,” he said, adding: “I took it off the clothesline and then put it back on the line.”
He then tried a key, that he had found some months earlier in the yard, in the lock of Ms Lowry’s front door and when he pushed the handle it opened. “I wasn’t sure if I had unlocked the door so I pressed down the handle,” he said. Hearing the beep of the alarm, he “panicked, having realised what I had done was wrong”.
He got in his 4×4 and drove away. He went to the farm the next day but no one was there so the following day after that, he returned and explained to Ms Lowry what had happened and gave her the key and the letter. The trial continues.