Thursday 18 January 2018

Girl (6) died after fireplace fell on her, inquest told

Ralph Riegel

A FATHER told yesterday how his six-year-old daughter died after she accidentally pulled a fireplace down on top of herself.

Aisling Sullivan died three days after the horrific accident, which occurred as she played with her two young brothers in the family's Bere Island home off west Cork last May.

Her death shocked the tight-knit island community -- and prompted President Mary McAleese to call off her first ever planned visit to Bere Island as a mark of respect.

Aisling's father, Jack Sullivan, is one of the island's most high-profile businessmen and had helped develop Bere Island's new heritage centre.

Yesterday, a Cork coroner's inquest heard that Mr Sullivan, who is a builder, had been planning to install a back-boiler in the family home at The Strand on Bere Island.

As a result, the 5ft high wooden fireplace in the sitting room had been left free-standing for just a couple of days.


On May 24, his sons Sean and Ciaran and daughter Aisling were playing in the sitting room of their home as Mr Sullivan worked in another room.

"I heard a bang and I heard my son calling 'Aisling'. When I looked I saw the fireplace lying on the floor," he said.

Mr Sullivan's son revealed that Aisling had begun swinging off the mantelpiece. The structure had then toppled onto her.

Mr Sullivan was shocked to see blood coming from Aisling's head and mouth.

Aisling was taken to Bantry General Hospital then transferred to Cork University Hospital but desperate efforts by surgeons to stabilise her failed.

The life support machine was turned off on May 27 and Aisling died a few minutes later.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster conducted a post-mortem and found the little girl had died from brain swelling and contusion.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Irish Independent

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