It was the time spent at home recovering from a recent injury that allowed a neighbor’s thoughts to turn to the awkward position of an adjoining bungalow in South Tipperary.
Locals were convinced that Nicholas and Hillary Smith had moved away and went to live in France.
It is understood that a local woman, who had befriended the highly private English couple, had even invited them to her daughter’s wedding, had received a note outlining their plans. He couldn’t remember whether it was stamped or simply dropped through his letterbox.
It is believed that it has since been misguided.
The note said that Smith had sold his house to friends in England and would immediately move to France.
The new buyers would not move for some time, but he had a family in Kilkenny who would look at the property from time to time.
Smith paid a local gardener for the year to cut the grass and asked the post office to hold his mail, while electricity and domestic heating oil continued to be paid for by direct debit.
When the money for maintenance ran out, the gardener continued to mow for a while, saying he knew they would fix it when he returned.
But nothing added about the situation, said one of the couple’s neighbors, who also said that he was shocked by what had happened for some time before that.
“I just had a weird feeling about it. I couldn’t understand what had happened and why there wasn’t any activity. When I was done I was just coming over and had time to think about it.” No, but when I got injured I got a chance to think about what had happened,” he said.
Through a newly built gap in a dense fence about two and a half meters high, he was able to find the pristine 151 Silver Volvo, entirely piloted by Mr. Smith, who is said to have been a retired cruise ship. was the captain. , His wife did not drive.
The car was apparently parked very deliberately and thus concealed from the road, tucked close to the wall in a corner of the yard where the rear extension connected to the original bungalow.
“I don’t know if he had always parked it that way because the gap in the hedge had never been there before,” said the neighbor, explaining how the condition of the vehicle had upset him, and it was he who contacted him. was forced to guard
Yesterday, forensic teams searched the bungalow in Rosanne, outside Clonion, for evidence of the circumstances behind the death of the couple, whose bodies had apparently been lying in the house for some time.
The expiration dates of milk cartons and other perishable items in the fridge indicate that they died in November or December 2020.
Some of the Gardai exiting the property were clearly relieved to be swallowed in the fresh air.
The grass outside was almost knee high. In addition to its range of shrubs, still overgrown, the garden had everything back except meadows and wild flowers.
It seemed beyond belief to imagine what happened here, and yet at a time when the world was forced to socially distance and isolate due to public health measures, it was all
It is very easy to see how this situation could not have gone unnoticed.
During their time, the couple had kept the house as clean as a pin and built a garage that housed an old car they had not sold, their neighbor said.
They moved to Rawson after failing in their bid to buy a house in Clonmel.
He had spoken to them only four times during the nearly 11 years he was close to the sober-tempered couple.
His usual driving route did not take him past his home. Neither did the couple set out to visit the area, which is located in the picturesque foothills of Slivenmon.
The main hillwalkers’ trail runs along the other side of the mountain, and the wooded area near the couple’s bungalow is rarely visited by visitors.
Another local man had only seen Mr Smith once, when he was seen picking primroses in a nearby ditch.
Meanwhile, his wife is believed to have arthritis, who often wrapped herself in a shawl.
She also suffered from sensitivity to sunlight, which meant that the bungalow’s blinds and curtains were always kept closed.
However, they did not appear weak; In fact, the neighbor thought they looked younger than their years.
“They were a very close couple,” he said, adding that they were “pleasant” and “they would greet you on the street if they met you”, but were not 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 said.
Recalling his last meeting with Mr Smith, the neighbor said he believed it was in September 2020 as they were both short sleeves.
They greeted each other with a Covid elbow bump, and Mr. Smith had asked him if he had accidentally received a package for him.
The neighbor also recalled how Mr. Smith “had done his research” and learned from their first meeting that he was a member of the community heart program, and was more reassured to hear that he had been trained in first aid. was.
A social media backlash – with questions about how Smith’s fate could go unnoticed for so long – has deeply wounded the local community.
In the local garage, an old man sadly raised his eyebrows.
“We are in the spotlight,” he said quietly.
But the neighbor said: “Those who are making these comments on social media are not aware of the situation.
“They don’t know the geography of the area and they think that when you have a neighbor they don’t know the distance between the houses here.
“These guys were private — you couldn’t knock on their door and push your way if they didn’t want to.”