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Community in shock as couple die in house fire

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Charlotte McGuinness, who died in last nights house fire near Duleek, Co Meath. Photo Ciara Wilkinson.

Charlotte McGuinness, who died in last nights house fire near Duleek, Co Meath. Photo Ciara Wilkinson.

Michael Clifford, who died in last night's house fire near Duleek, Co Meath. Photo Ciara Wilkinson.

Michael Clifford, who died in last night's house fire near Duleek, Co Meath. Photo Ciara Wilkinson.

The mother of Charlotte McGuinness who died in the house fire in Duleek, visits the scene of the blaze with neighbours.

The mother of Charlotte McGuinness who died in the house fire in Duleek, visits the scene of the blaze with neighbours.

A family member pictured outside the house near Duleek in Co Meath where last night there was a fire and two people died. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson.

A family member pictured outside the house near Duleek in Co Meath where last night there was a fire and two people died. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson.

Gardai outside the house near Duleek in Co Meath where last night there was a fire and two people died. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

Gardai outside the house near Duleek in Co Meath where last night there was a fire and two people died. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

Charlotte McGuinness, who died in last nights house fire near Duleek, Co Meath. Photo Ciara Wilkinson.

The family and friends of a man, who died along with his partner in a house fire, have paid tribute to the couple.

Michael 'Mickey' Clifford (53) and his partner, Charlotte McGuinness, are believed to have died from smoke inhalation.

They lived in Mr Clifford's family home, a single storey bungalow, at Keenogue, Duleek in county Meath.

Mr Clifford's brother, Henry, said both families have been in the area for generations and his brother and Charlotte had been in a relationship for the last number of years.

indication

The fire appears to have burned itself out and been contained inside the white-washed building; there was no indication to his brother Henry, who lives in a separate house at the back of the property, that anything was amiss.

Henry Clifford said it was only when a sister of Ms McGuinness called to the house just before 9am yesterday that the alarm was raised.

"I don't know how long it has been like that. We were here on Sunday. As you can see, you don't notice anything. The last time I seen both of them was Saturday night about 9 o'clock.

"Both were well known in the community, my brother was a big Meath (GAA) supporter."

Mr Clifford works in London and rang his wife at about 9am yesterday to tell her his flight had arrived.

She then told him the news about his brother and partner.

The family believes the couple died from smoke inhalation.

"We have to wait and see what the results of the post mortem is but it looks like a chair went on fire in the house. There is a lot of smoke damage, nobody could survive that, which is evident," Mr Clifford said.

He believes that he was, "probably the last person to see them alive on Saturday at about 9pm." He said Mickey was the youngest of four siblings and that Charlotte had a daughter, Anne Marie.

bodies

The couple's bodies were removed to Our Lady's Hospital in Navan for post mortems.

Two units of Meath fire service attended the scene along with units from Drogheda fire service.

A garda spokeman said there was nothing to indicate the fire was suspicious. Gardai will prepare a file for the Meath county coroner who will hold inquests at a later date. Meath County Councillor Sharon Keogan also knew the pair.

"I come down the road past his house every single morning and they were both well known in the community. The whole community is absolutely shocked," she said.

hnews@herald.ie


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