A small rural community was left heartbroken yesterday after an elderly couple were found dead in their home after falling victim to suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.
Michael Hurley (83) and his partner Mary Holohan (79) were discovered by a family member at their home in Kilderry, near Kilkenny city.
It is understood they may have been dead for a number of days before being found at around 7pm on Wednesday.
The lights remained on in two rooms at the country house on Johnswell Road last night as gardai carried out investigations.
Post-mortems are set to take place and will determine the course of the investigation into the tragedy, though gardai suspect that the couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Their bodies were driven away from the home in a hearse at around 5pm yesterday, to be taken to Waterford Regional Hospital.
Neighbours said Michael and Mary had been together for at least 20 years.
They were described as a quiet couple who were very well-liked in the area and had a particular fondness for dancing.
They were still active and "very much out and about", as one local put it.
Local councillor Pat Fitzpatrick said Michael and Mary lived the normal life of a pensioner couple.
He said that, while Mary came from a different part of Kilkenny, Michael had done a bit of farming in the area.
The house where the couple were found was Michael's family home, and his mother had been well known as the local GP in Kilderry.
One neighbour, who knew the couple well, said they were very private but "lovely and friendly" and would go dancing.
"They're together, I suppose, 20 years or so. Everybody is shocked," the neighbour said.
It is understood that Michael's twin sister died about two years ago.
"Everybody knew them. You'd meet Michael in the car and you'd wave at him, but only very, very occasionally," the neighbour said.
"They were lovely people and great neighbours. It's a tragedy to think how long they might have been dead.
"You didn't interfere with them because they were very private people."
Mr Fitzpatrick said the couple always supported community events.
"I'd know Michael more so, and Mary from travelling the road," he said. "Like everyone else locally, they didn't put in or put out on anyone.
"They were very private but they were great to support anything that was going on in the community, particularly the local sales of work and stuff like that.
"Very, very quiet people, but very fondly remembered because they were just very, very nice.
"It is just very, very sad and just really tragic."