Tuesday 21 November 2017

Parish left numb as prayers are said for wife and sister

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

NOBODY can make sense of what happened.

Members of the Catholic Church and Church of Ireland communities were shattered last night as they said prayers for Hilda after the brutal death of her brother, George Rothwell, and husband, Michael Jordan.

In Ballinkillen Church in Bagenalstown, a short distance from the farm where yesterday's tragic events unfolded, it should have been an annual Ash Wednesday Mass.

Instead prayers were said for a devastated wife and sister following a tragedy that has "touched everybody" in the community.

Bagenalstown curate Fr Paddy Byrne said there was "numbness" yesterday as people woke up to the awful events.

"This is an absolute tragedy where two deeply respected members of the farming community have died because of tragic circumstances. It has left the parish numbed. Words are deeply inadequate at this time," said Fr Byrne.

Bagenalstown minister, the Rev Charles McCollum, who knew Mr Rothwell well, travelled back from a trip to Belfast to be with the family last night.

"It's a shocking tragedy for all the families involved and the local community," he said.

Neighbour Patsy O'Connor said: "I knew George Rothwell very well. He sang in a band years and years ago, the Roulette showband it was called and he performed all over Ireland.

"A gentleman, he was."

Arthur McDonald, a Fianna Fail councillor who also knew the families, described both victims as model farmers.

"I knew them all my life -- nicer, finer people you could not meet," he said.

Bagenalstown residents spoke of how the two men were often seen together, and how, on the surface, everything seemed fine.

Another local councillor, Denis Foley (FG), who knew Mr Rothwell, described the events as "terrible". "It's a quiet rural community. People are suffering here."

Mr Foley remembered how Mr Rothwell had a passion for music and was a devoted farmer.

"He sang the 'Hucklebuck' -- that was his tune."

IFA President John Bryan expressed his sympathy to the families of the two farmers.

"Neighbours and the wider farming community are shocked at the news of this terrible tragedy, which has taken the lives of two highly respected farmers who were from well-known families. Both were well regarded in the local community."

Irish Independent

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