Families 'numb' over farm deaths
The family of two brothers-in-law found dead on neighbouring farms in a suspected murder-suicide have been devastated and numbed by the tragedy, a local priest said.
Firefighters who battled for four hours to control a huge blaze at haysheds at Ballycormac House, near Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, found the body of George Rothwell, 71, at the large farmhouse where he lived alone. It is thought the award-winning cattle breeder and well-known local musician died from gunshot wounds. A firearm was discovered close to his body.
Several hours later around 9am, as the barns still smouldered, his sister Hilda found her husband Michael Jordan, 51, hanging in an outbuilding on their neighbouring farm. It is believed he had taken his own life.
A small amount of livestock was also killed in the fire while around 30 cattle were rescued from one of the barns.
Fr Paddy Byrne, a local priest, comforted Hilda and relatives at the scene.
"They are devastated," he said. "This is a very difficult place for anyone to find themselves to be, in terms of the tragic loss of life.
"There is shock, a numbness, an environment where people are trying to come to terms with exactly what happened."
Fr Byrne said both farmers were well-known and well-respected and he said of the close-knit community: "There's a sense of absolute numbness. When things you often hear about far away come to reality close by it's very difficult.
"It's a sad day for the area, it's a huge loss for the community and our immediate concern is to support the families and be close to them. We're trying to comfort and be there for them."
It is understood the Jordans had no children. Mr Rothwell, a bachelor and only sibling of Hilda, was a member of the Church of Ireland.