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Sunday 17 December 2017

Loneliest day for courageous Hilda as she buries husband and brother

Hilda Jordan outside St Andrew's Church
George Rothwell
Michael Jordan was found hanged in a shed

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

JUST two hours after she buried her husband, Hilda Jordan walked behind her brother's coffin.

Jockey's silks were laid out on top of the wooden box carrying George Rothwell's remains from Lorum Church, near Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.

Mrs Jordan was supported by the family of her late husband, Michael, as she left the small church on a hilltop from where you can see her brother's farm.

Less than a week ago, Michael Jordan (51) went to see Mr Rothwell (68) at Ballycormac House where the two men were involved in a heated row over land.

Mr Jordan blasted Mr Rothwell with a shotgun up to four times, killing him.

Mr Jordan set the farm sheds outside the property alight before he walked the short distance from the scene to a shed at the back of his own house and hanged himself.

A solo trumpeter played Johnny Cash's 'A Ring of Fire' as Mr Rothwell's remains were lowered into the ground in the churchyard where his late father, Fred, is also buried.

A few miles down the road, in the new cemetery in Bagenalstown, his brother-in-law Mr Jordan was laid to rest after 12 noon Mass yesterday.

Mr Rothwell -- a man of great musical talent who travelled Ireland and England with The Roulettes in the showband era -- was buried on his 68th birthday yesterday.

The packed Protestant church near Mr Rothwell's home heard of how he was a perfectionist when it came to playing the saxophone. He had travelled to ballrooms all over the country with his band and was known for his "excellent timing" on the sax.

Remarkably, the farmer's son had only picked up a saxophone for the first time in 1963 before mastering it quickly and touring the UK some three years later.

The Reverend Charles McCollum, the chief celebrant of Mr Rothwell's funeral service, described Mrs Jordan as a "very special person" of "great faith and integrity".

He said it was her faith that was "taking her through these dark days".


"The manner of his (George's) death, we do not understand... We do not have to, we are helpless in the face of deaths like these.

"Analysing what happened last Wednesday or why it happened is not our purpose here today," Mr McCollum said.

Mr Jordan's three sisters, Margaret, Mary and Kathleen, looked on as Mr McCollum referred to the "frighteningly hostile environment" that we live in today.

The vicar who married Hilda and Michael Jordan some 20 years earlier, the Reverend Norman Campbell, was present for the two funerals.

Mr Rothwell bred race horses and the red and blue silks placed on his coffin reflected his passion for the sport. His other interests -- music and vintage tractors -- were clear from the ceremony. A vintage tractor led the procession to Lorum Church while his fellow band members from The Roulettes mourned his passing at the service.

The church heard that Mr Rothwell played with the seven-piece group for 31 years until they took a "permanent break" in 1999.

Mr McCollum described how Mr Rothwell was a "deep and meditative fellow" who would sometimes almost go "into a trance" or a "pensive mood".

He said many people found they "couldn't get to know George". Mr McCollum called to him at his farmhouse on a few occasions but didn't come away any wiser.

He was a "progressive" and "model farmer" who was always "meticulous and exact".

Mr Rothwell had won many prizes for breeding sheep and was heavily involved in the IFA.

Earlier, in St Andrew's Church in Bagenalstown, over 500 members of the farming community, and neighbours and friends from surrounding parishes, came to pay their respects to Mrs Jordan on her husband's death.

Bagenalstown parish priest Fr Declan Foley said she had been landed with "not one but two heavy crosses" which she had to bear.

Fr Foley told the packed church that countless people had come from far and near to comfort the two families on the deaths, "marvelling at the courage and strength of Hilda".

There was loud applause from the congregation when Fr Foley condemned "some elements of the print media" for adding to Mrs Jordan's grief by intruding on her privacy.

Mr Jordan was described during the Mass as a quiet man who took pride in his farm.

In a eulogy, a tearful neighbour, Arthur McCullough, detailed "fine memories" of Mr Jordan. He said he trained dogs, and visitors to his farm could have assumed he was training a football team -- and not an animal -- such was the noise from his whistle and commands.

He said Mr Jordan always found time for neighbours and friends and will be truly missed.

"In his sisters' words, he was a caring brother. In Hilda's words, a great husband," said Mr McCullough.

Irish Independent

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