The bodies of a couple found in their Tipperary home had been undiscovered since at least last year, gardaí believe.
It is understood that the remains may have been there for so long that dental records may be required for formal identification.
However, there were no immediate indications of foul play, according to sources.
Locals told gardaí they thought the elderly man and woman, both aged in their late 70s, and originally from England, had moved away from Ireland during the pandemic.
The grim discovery was made shortly after 4pm on Monday when gardaí called to the remote property at Cloneen in south Tipperary.
Some locals have told officers that the couple had not been seen in the locality since 2020.
“People had thought that they had moved away from Ireland during the Covid pandemic but unfortunately this was not the case,” a source told Independent.ie.
Concerns were raised by neighbours and friends who had not seen the couple for some time.
The alarm was raised yesterday when a local wondered why there was no sign of activity at the house but the cars belonging to the couple remained parked at the back of the property.
Some in the rural community thought that because the couple were English they may have returned home to the UK sometime during the pandemic or they had moved for health reasons.
But more recently a local wondered about the presence of the cars at the back of the house.
They alerted a local county councillor for advice, and the councillor is understood to have contacted gardaí, who gained access to the premises yesterday afternoon and discovered the bodies of the couple.
The house is off a road between the villages of Cloneen and Mullinahone in a picturesque valley near Slievenamon Bog, not far from the Tipperary border with Co Waterford.
The detached bungalow is one of only a few on the road, and the grass has grown long in the garden.
Locals said it could be more than 18 months since they were last seen, but said the couple were very private people.
“They would give you a wave as they drove past, but they kept to themselves and people didn’t want to intrude on their lives or their property,” said one man.
Local sources said they had heard that the man may have worked in the shipping or cruise ship industry before retiring but that was not confirmed at this early stage.
The couple are said to have lived at the house for around 10 years.
Gardaí gained access to the property at Cloneen, located off the Fethard-Mullinahone road, and discovered the bodies inside.
Gardaí sealed off the scene and notified the State Pathologist’s Office. Both bodies will remain in situ until an examination of the scene is conducted by the state pathologist.
They will then be removed to University Hospital Waterford for a full postmortem examination.
Experts from the Garda Technical Bureau will also conduct an examination of the scene.
A garda source indicated that there were no initial indications that foul play was involved in the deaths.
There was no sign of a disturbance in the house and there was no sign of any forced entry.
“It is a very early stage in the investigation and we are keeping an open mind. The findings of the postmortem examination will determine precisely what we are dealing with,” the source said.
While gardaí said there was no indication of any suspicious circumstances, they are not ruling anything in or out at this point.
Detectives are also investigating whether the deaths may have been due to a tragic accident or some medical cause.
Such was the condition of the bodies that it may require laboratory tests to determine the precise cause of death.
One of the couple is understood to have a history of health issues.
Gardaí are calling to speak with neighbours and friends to try to determine the last known sighting or contact anyone locally had with the couple.
Clonmel gardaí are leading the investigation and have appealed for anyone with information on the last known movements of the couple to contact them.