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Saturday 19 January 2019

Community left in shock as former teacher (83) dies in fire at her home

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Conor Feehan and Ryan Nugent

An 83-year-old woman who died following a fire at a house in Co Longford at the weekend has been named locally as Mary Ann McNerney.

Gardaí from Granard were called to the scene at Camagh, near Abbeylara, shortly after 7pm on Saturday.

The blaze was extensive when the fire brigade arrived but was brought under control by Fire Service units from Castlepollard and Granard.

Locals raised the alarm and summoned help when smoke and flames were spotted at the remote rural house.

The body of Ms McNerney was recovered from the house during a follow-up search by the emergency services.

She lived alone in the house following the sudden death of her brother William there in February of last year.

William McNerney had a small farm, on which the old cottage was built. He and his sister had lived in the area all their lives, according to locals.

Local councillor PJ Reilly said the community had been left reeling by the news as he expressed his sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased.

"It's very unfortunate that a tragedy such as this has come upon the village of Abbeylara," he said. "It's all the more tragic when you consider that this was an elderly woman who lived alone and that she couldn't be saved," he added.

"Mary Ann was well known in Abbeylara. She had only done her shopping there a few hours before the fire.

"She got a taxi into the town and was dropped home," Cllr Reilly explained.

"She was a teacher in her working days and then lived with her brother. She has a sister in England and a niece and nephew, who will be coming to Abbeylara to make funeral arrangements. Our sympathies go out to them and to the local community."

No one else was in the house at the time of the fire, which is believed to have started in the fireplace.

"Mary Ann was trying to keep warm in the sudden cold, I suppose. It's very sad," said Cllr Reilly.

Ms McNerney's body was removed to Mullingar Hospital, where a post-mortem examination was due to be carried out.

The scene of the blaze was also preserved for a technical examination. However, foul play is not suspected.

Meanwhile, it is understood that a man was hospitalised following a suspected gas explosion in Waterford last night.

Gardai confirmed officers attended an incident alongside local fire fighters in the city.

It's understood the man was taken to University Hospital Waterford with burn injuries.

A spokesman for Gas Networks Ireland said it was asked to attend the scene at a house on Ballytruckle Road, Waterford city.

"The cause of the incident is unknown and an investigation is currently ongoing by an Garda Síochána and relevant authorities," he said.

Irish Independent

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