Saturday 18 November 2017

Fire victims were related to tragic family killed in horror Carrickmines blaze

Tara Gilbert and Willie Lynch
Tara Gilbert and Willie Lynch
Victims of Clondalkin fire. (From left clockwise) Holly (3), AnneMarie (27), Biddy (aged in her 30s), Jordan (4) and Paris (2) O'Brien
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The tragic victims of a fire that devastated a women's shelter in the early hours of yesterday were relatives of those who died in another massive blaze.

For the family of young mother Annemarie O'Brien and her children, the manner of their deaths has reopened painful recent memories.

The scene of the tragic fire at Glenmaluck Road, Carrickmines. Photo: David Conachy
The scene of the tragic fire at Glenmaluck Road, Carrickmines. Photo: David Conachy

Ms O'Brien (27) was related to the extended Lynch family, some of whom were among the 10 victims of a massive inferno that engulfed a halting site in Carrickmines, Dublin, in October 2015.

In that incident, Jimmy Lynch (39), Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27), and their children Jodie (9), and four-year-old Kelsey were all killed.

Thomas Connors (27), his wife Sylvia (25), and three of their children - Jim (5), Christy (2) and five-month-old Mary - also perished in that inferno.

Tragic Ms O'Brien attended the funerals of those victims and, like all members of the community from the area, was deeply affected.

She was particularly close to Ms Gilbert, who was pregnant when the fire took her life around 17 months ago.

In a cruel coincidence, Ms O'Brien, who has now died at the same age as Ms Gilbert, was also seven months pregnant.

Her child, two-year-old Paris, and her three-year-old cousin Holly, were also killed when the fire ripped through the home in Kilcronan Avenue, in Clondalkin, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Ms O'Brien's cousin Biddy O'Brien, mother of Holly, who was visiting her in the Clondalkin home, last night remained in a critical condition.

Tara and Willie's daughters Kelsey and Jodie died in Carrickmines fire
Tara and Willie's daughters Kelsey and Jodie died in Carrickmines fire

Her son Jordan (4) passed away as doctors battled to save his life.

Their cousin, Jim O'Brien, who works with the Bray Travellers Community Development Group, told the Irish Independent the tragedy has reopened wounds.

"For another fire to happen like that, it's opened up all the old wounds that are still raw. For this tragedy to happen after Carrickmines, it is just still so raw at the moment," he said.

Ms O'Brien was raised in the Fassaroe area of Bray, Co Wicklow and Shankill, Dublin, as was Biddy, who was "like her sister". Mr O'Brien described her as "a lovely young lady" and said he was praying that Biddy could pull through.

"Anne would be closely related to one of the siblings who married into the Lynch family," he said of her connection to the Carrickmines tragedy.

"She was very well liked, I never heard anything bad said about Anne," he said.

Mr O'Brien said the community was now facing carrying more coffins. "There are hard days ahead, dark days as I see them," he said.

Ms O'Brien was well known in the Bray area and Mr O'Brien said he expected both the Traveller and settled community to come together in mourning. "She loved life," he said.

Among her interests were arts and music.

The Carrickmines fire drew international headlines due to the scale of the loss of life.

An investigation into the blaze found that an unattended oven was the likely cause of the fire.

The forensic investigation determined that the blaze began in the kitchen and spread quickly, engulfing the entire unit.

It is believed that those killed in the tragic incident died from smoke inhalation.

Five adults and five children perished in the blaze.

It emerged that the HSE, child and family agency Tusla and the National Maternity Hospital all penned letters expressing concern about the halting site conditions.

Improper cooking facilities were flagged in the correspondence.

The HSE also penned a warning letter pointing out that there was an overflow problem with the sewage tank at the site.

"The most alarming observation from the family is the amount of rats they see," the HSE wrote.

"Parents are afraid to let children out to play."

The victims of that fire were buried in Bray and Wexford.

Irish Independent

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