George Rothwell, 67, Hilda’s only brother, died from gunshot wounds last Wednesday at his home in Ballycormack House, outside Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.
Two hours later, the body of Hilda’s husband Michael Jordan, 51, who had shot Mr Rothwell, was discovered in a shed behind his home at Glenaharry, the adjoining farm to Mr Rothwell’s. Mr Jordan had taken his own life.
At the funeral services yesterday, a community wounded by the heartbreaking events of this double tragedy gathered in their hundreds to pay their respects.
Requiem Mass for Mr Jordan was celebrated at St Andrew’s Church, Bagenalstown, at 11am, followed by his brother-in-law’s funeral service in The Church of the Good Shepherd, Lorum, Bagenalstown, at 2.30pm.
Mr Rothwell was laid to rest on the day he should have been celebrating his 68th birthday.
A brave and dignified Mrs Jordan was the chief mourner at both services.
In St Andrew’s, parish priest Fr Declan Foley, said the events of last Wednesday had “crushed hearts of the Catholic and Church of Ireland communities”.
“Of course in Ballycormack and Glenaharry, there is only one community, bounded in friendship and bounded in farming.
“We are feeling wounded by the events of last Wednesday but we gather to stand shoulder to shoulder with the grief of Hilda and the Jordan family in hope that they take strength from our support.”
Fr Foley spoke of the two very heavy losses Mrs Jordan has to bear — the death of her husband and her brother.
“We have all marvel at the dignity, courage, and strength of Hilda.”
Fr Foley also paid tribute to the support of the community in this difficult time described it as “the gospel being lived out at its best.”
In a moving eulogy, Arthur McCullagh, a neighbour and friend of Mr Jordan, reflected that all were there to “share in the many fine achievements and treasured memories of Michael.”
“He was ‘a caring brother’, that’s the words of his sisters Kathleen, Mary and Margaret and ‘a great husband’ in the words of Hilda.
“We will truly miss Michael, may his memory live on with Hilda, Margaret, Kathleen and Mary, and may they find strength and comfort.”
Mr Rothwell was buried in the churchyard alongside Lorum Church of Ireland Parish Church, close his family home, the scene of last week’s tragic events.
Hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the single farmer, widely known throughout the county in farming and music circles.
Rev Charles McCollum spoke of the “extraordinary difficult times” faced by the Jordan and Rothwell families.
“Analysis of what happened or why it happened is not the purpose of today or any of the events surrounding it,” he said, adding all were gathered there to encourage “higher things like hope and love”.
Rev McCollum spoke of the Christian way not to condemn, even if our friends die in violent circumstances. “If we are wise, we thank God’s good judgment, which will triumph over the most evil judgments we can make.
“Our return for killing is not to kill again but to save.
“We are helpless in the face of deaths like these, where we see the fragility of our own lives and expectations… things we can do nothing to prevent.”