A HEARTBROKEN honeymoon couple have told of their dismay at losing out on their holiday in Ireland after the online firm behind it collapsed.
Other families who have paid their hard-earned cash for a self-catering holiday in Ireland through the Selfcatering.ie website are devastated.
Orla Byrne (36) and her husband Jimmy, from Rosslare, Co Wexford, told RTE Radio's Liveline yesterday they have lost their €670 honeymoon, which was to be in Kenmare, Co Kerry, with their three children.
The couple got married on June 15 and decided to wait to have their honeymoon when the children were on the summer break from school.
When Orla received the email from selfcatering.ie telling her that her honeymoon was lost, she thought it was spam.
"I looked at the email and I thought this can't be right. We paid €670 and the owner of the property has offered it to us now for €300, but that means that the honeymoon is now costing €1,000. We're still trying to decide what to do.
"It's the heartache of telling the kids that the holiday is now gone. They were so looking forward to it." Ciaran (7), Niamh (6) and Caoimhe (2) were all flower girls and page boys at their parents' wedding
"This was all part of the package for them. I love Ireland and I love going on holidays here but I think now I should have gone on a foreign holiday."
Other victims of the collapse were Rebecca Egan (35) and her husband Kieran (34), from Galway, who had booked a €750 one-week family holiday in Lahinch, Co Clare, in August.
The couple have two young children, Kaitlin (5) and Liam (3), who've been excited about the family holiday for weeks, and now are bitterly disappointed that they can't go.
"I've been showing the kids pictures of where we were going over the last few weeks," said Rebecca. "I was showing them the beach and the pool, and now they don't understand why they can't go, they wouldn't be able to understand. It was all they were talking about, especially when they got their holidays from school. But the company has our money."
She added: "We rang the credit card company to try, because we'd made two of the payments through our credit card. They're putting our case forward for us on Monday but it could take 45 days for them to process it. We've no insurance on the credit card.
"We should have got travel insurance but you wouldn't think you'd need it for renting a house."
Selfcatering.ie issued a statement saying it had ceased trading with immediate effect, acknowledging that customers and suppliers may be "financially impacted".
"We apologise for this unreservedly," the statement read, adding that ceasing trading was a last resort and that "every effort had been made to prevent the situation".
Fianna Fail tourism spokesperson Timmy Dooley has called on Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar to regulate the online booking industry.
Nicholas Revilles from Clonee, Dublin 15, has lost his three-day break in Lahinch, Co Clare, as a treat for his parents-in-law and his mother.
"I booked it two months ago and I paid the deposit by debit card. Then earlier this week I received an email telling me that the balance was due.
"The girl I spoke to said we don't take payment by card anymore and she gave me a bank account number and told me to lodge it. My wife then lodged the remaining balance of €199."
Nicholas was shocked to find out at midday yesterday that his family holiday was gone.
"The company that owns the property rang me and said that it's still available but it's another €250 because they never received any payment. But I can't afford to pay that."