It was time spent at home recovering from a recent injury that allowed one neighbor’s thoughts to turn to the puzzling situation in a bungalow next door in south Tipperary.
The locals were told that Nicholas and Hilary Smith had gone to live in France.
A local woman who befriended a very introverted English couple and even invited them to her daughter’s wedding is known to have received a note outlining their plans. She couldn’t remember if it had a stamp on it or if it just dropped into the mailbox.
It is believed that it has since been lost.
The note stated that the Smiths had sold their house to friends in England and were moving immediately to France.
The new buyers won’t be moving for a while, but they have relatives in Kilkenny who will drop by the house from time to time.
The Smiths paid a local gardener upfront for a year to keep cutting the grass and told the post office to hold up their mail, while electricity and liquid heating for the house continued to be paid by direct debit.
When the maintenance money ran out, the gardener continued to mow the grass for a while, saying that he knew they would mend it when they got back.
But something about the situation didn’t add up, said another neighbor of the couple, who also said he was puzzled by what had happened some time ago.
“I just have a weird feeling about it. I could not understand what happened and why there is no activity. When I was working, I just came and went and I didn’t have time to think about it, but when I got injured, I got the opportunity to think about what happened,” he said.
Through a newly formed gap in the dense hedge, about two and a half meters high, he could make out an intact silver Volvo 151, driven exclusively by Mr. Smith, who was said to be a retired cruise ship captain. . The wife didn’t drive.
The car appears to have been parked very deliberately and in such a way as to hide it from the road, nestled against the wall in the corner of the yard created where the extension at the back connected to the original bungalow.
“I don’t know if he always parked it like that because there was never a gap in the hedge before,” the neighbor said, explaining how the position of the car bothered him and that was what forced him to contact Garda.
Yesterday, forensic teams ransacked a bungalow in Rossan, near Klonin, looking for evidence of the death of a couple whose bodies had apparently been lying in the house for some time.
The shelf life of milk cartons and other perishables in the refrigerator indicates that they died in November or December 2020.
Some of the guards leaving the building clearly felt welcome relief as they breathed in the fresh air.
Outside, the grass was almost knee-deep. Near the border of bushes, now also overgrown, the garden is almost back to meadow and wildflowers.
It seemed incredible to imagine what happened here, and yet at a time when the world was forced to become socially distancing and isolated due to public health measures, it was all
it is all too easy to understand how this situation could have gone unnoticed.
According to their neighbor, at one time the couple kept the house clean and built a garage that contained an old car that they did not sell.
They moved to Rossan after failing to buy a house in Clonmel.
In almost 11 years of living next to a quiet couple, he spoke with them only four times.
Their usual route did not pass by his house. The couple also did not go for a walk in the area lying in the picturesque foothills of Slivenamon.
The main mountain walking route is on the other side of the mountain, and the wooded area near the couple’s bungalow was rarely visited by visitors.
Another local resident only saw Smith once, when he was spotted picking primroses in a nearby ditch.
In the meantime, his wife was known to have arthritis and often wrapped herself in a shawl.
She also suffered from sensitivity to sunlight, which kept the blinds and curtains in the bungalow always closed.
However, they did not look weak; indeed, the neighbor thought they looked younger than their years.
“They were a very close couple,” he said, adding that they were “nice” and “would greet you on the road if they met,” but were not the kind of people “who would tell you their life story.”
“But if they were private, you had to respect that – you weren’t going to force yourself on them,” he added.
Recalling his last meeting with Mr Smith, the neighbor said he thought it was in September 2020 as they were both wearing short sleeves.
They greeted each other with a Covid elbow and Mr Smith asked him if he had accidentally received a package for him by mistake.
The neighbor also recalled how Mr. Smith “did his research” and already knew at their first meeting that he was in a community heart program and was even more relieved to learn that he was trained in first aid.
The reaction on social media – with questions raised about how the Smiths’ fate could have gone unnoticed for so long – deeply hurt the local community.
In the local garage, an elderly man raised his eyebrows dejectedly.
“We’re the center of attention,” he said quietly.
But the neighbor said, “People who make these comments on social media don’t know the situation.
“They do not know the geography of the area and think that when you have a neighbor who is nearby, they do not know the distance between houses here.
“These people were private – you couldn’t just knock on their door and squeeze in if they didn’t want to.”