AS the remains of Thomas Ruttle were finally laid to rest in his native Askeaton this Wednesday, mystery still surrounds the exact circumstances of his death.
And it is likely to be another week at least before the results of pathology tests will shed any light on the shocking events that led to his death and that of con woman Julia Holmes.
More than a fortnight after the grim discovery of the two bodies in a farmhouse in Boolaglass, family members finally had their opportunity to say their last goodbyes to a man described as a “good friend” and a “beloved father and brother”.
The small chapel of St Mary’s Church of Ireland was packed with almost 200 mourners for the funeral service this Wednesday afternoon.
In a warm tribute read out at the service, his sons Kelvin and Ian recalled a caring and devoted father who cherished their time together, often bringing them on memorable trips around Ireland and further afield.
“We will always remember our summer and Christmas visits to Boolaglass,” they said.
They also recalled their father’s 30-year devotion to beekeeping and his skill with his hands. “Dad was always fixing things,” they recalled.
Local Church of Ireland Minister Rev Keith Scott spoke of the “strange, even incomprehensible, and painful nature of the story of the events which eventually led to his death”.
And he acknowledged that the Ruttle family’s grief was not made any easier because of the “strangeness” of the events that led to Thomas’ death.
“There is no sorrow like the sorrow at the death of a loved one. It has been made all the more intense for us today because of the uncertainty and the long wait which has had to be endured to get to today, by the almost incomprehensible events surrounding Thomas’ death,” he said.
“Time will bring its own element of healing, but for those that were close to him Thomas will always be remembered, even in many years time, with a twinge of pain, like an old deep wound never quite healed, the flesh beneath the scars still tender.”
He described Thomas Ruttle as “a friend, a relative, a member of our parish and community.”
“We have been bereaved, a word which in old English meant “robbed”. Robbed suddenly by the death of a good friend, a beloved brother and father, a member of our local parish, a member of our human community. Some profound part of ourselves has been snatched away. It is something harsh, brutal and traumatic and none of us can escape those feelings of pain and sorrow.”
Despite this, however, he urged mourners not to fall victim to guilt or blame.
“Today is not a time for blame or anger. Let our grief be a grief without bitterness, or blame,” he urged.
Also attending the funeral alongside Mr Ruttle’s two sons were sisters Jean and Claire, brother Edward, brothers-in-law, sister-in-law, cousins, nieces and nephews and extended family members.
Following the service, the coffin containing Mr Ruttle’s remains was buried in the Ruttle family plot in the adjoining graveyard.
Meanwhile, the body of Julia Holmes remains unclaimed in the morgue of Limerick University Hospital. With no family members prepared to come forward and take responsibility for the convicted fraudster’s funeral, sources say it is increasingly likely she will be buried in a pauper’s grave in Limerick.