herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

'We're praying for a miracle' - family in bedside vigil for biddy

Neighbours place flowers in Kilcronan Avenue, Clondalkin, where a woman and three children died. Photo: Collins
Neighbours place flowers in Kilcronan Avenue, Clondalkin, where a woman and three children died. Photo: Collins

Relatives of the sole survivor of the Clondalkin blaze that claimed four lives have said they are "praying for a miracle".

Biddy O'Brien was last night fighting for her life in St James's Hospital following the tragedy in Kilcronan Avenue on Wednesday.

Her cousin Annemarie O'Brien (27), who was seven months pregnant, Annemarie's daughter Paris (2) and Biddy's children, Holly (3) and Jordan (4), all died after the horror fire at an apartment in the Cluainin Cronan complex.

As relatives struggled to come to terms with the tragedy, loved ones kept a vigil at Biddy's bedside.

Joanne Moorehouse, a cousin of Biddy, told the Herald she remains in a critical condition.

"All the family are spending as much time in the hospital as possible and we're praying for a miracle of course," she said.

"We hope that the bodies will be released at some stage tomorrow, but we're not 100pc sure. We'll be lighting candles soon enough in memory of our family who died in the fire.

"It's so sad and we haven't even gotten our heads around what happened yet."

Jim O'Brien, CEO of the Bray Travellers Community Development Group, said that most of the family had not left the hospital since the tragedy occurred.

"Myself and my wife were in the hospital for a couple of hours yesterday. I went in to say my condolences and to reassure everyone that we're there for them," he said.

"The family members haven't left the hospital since the victims were first admitted. I know they're utterly exhausted, but I actually don't think they even feel it because of the shock and pain."

Mr O'Brien added that there are similarities between this incident and the Carrickmines tragedy of 2015, when 10 people lost their lives when a fire ripped through a halting site.

"We have the experience of being through something like this before following the Carrickmines tragedy. There are similarities between the two with the large number of adults and children killed," he said.

"It's difficult to know what to say to them at a time like this, but it's important to let the family know we're there for them.

Tributes

It has emerged that the victims were related to some of those who lost their lives in the Carrickmines fire. Annemarie was related to the extended Lynch family, some of whom were among the 10 victims.

Annemarie attended those funerals and, like all members of the community in the area, was deeply affected.

Tributes were being paid to the victims of this week's fire throughout yesterday.

The number of floral tributes and children's toys left at the site grew, with one message of condolence simply reading: "There are no words at a time like this."

Those who left tributes included women from the refuge centre where Annemarie had been staying with her daughter.

The site was also visited by Tanaiste and local Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald, who described the tragedy as "desperately sad".

"Obviously a lot of people escaped from here but, tragically, four lives have been lost. So today we're thinking about the families and the friends and the people, the young children, the beautiful young children," she told TV3 news.

"It's a terrible tragedy this beautiful morning here and to think that four people have lost their lives and that there's another woman in hospital. It's just desperately sad, everybody's very, very traumatised by it."

A book of condolences was opened at the South Dublin County Council building in Clondalkin.

Pavee Point, which campaigns for Travellers' rights, said in a statement: "We are devastated at this tragic event and our thoughts and hearts go out to the families and friends of the deceased."

Fault

No funeral details have yet been announced for the four victims, who were all originally from Bray in Co Wicklow.

Gardai and Dublin Fire Brigade continued their investigations into what caused the tragedy yesterday as a garda technical expert inspected the apartment.

Meanwhile, an elderly man was killed yesterday in a house fire in Co Donegal.

The victim was named locally as James 'Jimmy' Campbell (70).

A visitor to the house in Glassaghbeg, Cloghan, alerted the fire service to the blaze at about 2pm.

Firefighters managed to get into the house and took the elderly man from the building, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 2.22pm.

It is understood he lived alone. A post-mortem will take place at Letterkenny University Hospital today.

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