A WIDOW who lost her husband and brother in a murder-suicide has revealed that her husband gave her an "intense" kiss on the night before he killed her brother and then took his own life.
Hilda Jordan told an inquest that the kiss was the only thing different about a normal night spent watching a farming TV programme in their bungalow – just next door to her only brother George Rothwell's large, two-storey Ballycormac House, on the outskirts of Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.
However, Michael Jordan (52) is believed to have later set the barns of Mr Rothwell (68) alight in the middle of the night, before turning a gun on him.
Mr Jordan's body was later found hanging in a shed on his farm.
"He gave me an intense kiss," Mrs Jordan told an inquest yesterday into the death of her husband. She said he grabbed her by the shoulders and stared into her eyes.
She felt it was "very different" and it took her by surprise. But she "saw nothing different about him" that evening.
The dedicated farmer then left the house at 11.45pm on February 21, 2012, to check on a cow calving. It was the last time she was to see him alive.
A picture of a close-knit family emerged as she told how her husband and brother often helped each other out and each Sunday they dined together, "almost religiously".
Just days earlier, on Sunday, February 19, they had all sat down at the table as usual.
She recalled that on the previous Thursday they had all gone together to Gowran Races in Co Kilkenny.
Mrs Jordan went up to her brother's farm each day, as she kept her thoroughbred horses there.
At 6pm on February 21, her brother had been in “great form” as she left, she said.
However, in the weeks leading up to the fateful night, she had come home in the afternoon to find her husband lying in the dark and he told her “he wished it was dark” more often.
“Michael suffered a little from depression and nerves,” she had told gardai. He had been worried about money but she had repeatedly tried to assure him there was no need to be.
“He only had two payments left on the tractor,” she said.
The farmer had taken it badly after losing 11 calves “in a row”.
Once, Mrs Jordan recalled, she had tried to get him to see a GP after he had gone missing before emerging from a ditch insisting that he had just fallen asleep.
She said things had “settled down” after this and had improved again.
In comparison, her brother was a “laid-back” character.
Neither of the two men, who were often spotted together at the mart, had children and they were known for their pride in rearing livestock.
Mr Rothwell, a member of the Church of Ireland, was an award-winning sheep breeder whose musical talents were well known locally. He had travelled around Ireland and England with The Roulettes band during the showband era.
Mr Rothwell was a member of the Irish Farmers’ Association and was known for the meticulous upkeep of his farm.
Mr Jordan, who was Roman Catholic, was also held in high esteem in the farming community and friends have recalled that he was fond of training his sheep dogs
The two men were waked side by side.
By Louise Hogan