Miraculous escape for family - including 15-month-old toddler - after arsonists rammed pub with van before torching it
A family with a 15-month-old toddler had a miraculous escape after arsonists rammed the front of their pub with a van before torching the vehicle and setting the premises ablaze.
The men rammed a Ford Transit van with a Northern registration into the front door of the Meath pub just after midnight on Monday.
There were at least a dozen people in the 150-year-old Duleek premises at the time, including a 15-month-old baby and an elderly man with Parkinson’s disease.
All managed to escape unharmed but the pub and home have been destroyed.
It was the second suspected arson attack on the premises in just two days. No definitive motive has yet been established.
The shocking incident occurred at Kelly’s pub in the well known village.
The family, who asked not to be named, told the Herald how the actions of a quick-thinking member of staff saved them.
“If it happened any later when everyone was in bed and the pub was locked up, we probably would be dead.
“We just can’t believe it, it’s a quiet area around here.
“I didn’t hear the noise of the van hitting the pub at all, it was only when one of the workers came from downstairs and started banging on the door that we were aware of what was going on,” the family said.
“We had to escape down the back because the front was completely blocked off and in flames. The room with our baby’s cot is completely burnt out, which shows how bad it could have ended.
“We’ve run the pub for 29 years, and the building has been standing for 150 years, but it’s gone now.
“We’ve lost our home and our business but we’re all still alive which is the main thing,” they added.
The bar manager praised the rapid reaction of the local fire brigade, as well as the response of the local community in the wake of the serious incident.
Locals added how the quick thinking of two punters in the bar also saved an elderly man who suffers from Parkinson’s.
“If it weren’t for two brave people drinking downstairs, he wouldn’t be alive. It’s absolutely disgraceful what has happened, people in the area can’t believe it,” a local woman said.
This was the second attempted arson attack on the popular pub.
On Saturday night, a car was set on fire outside the pub, causing damage to another vehicle. However, the pub wasn’t damaged on that occasion.
The charred remains of the pub and home were visible yesterday, with a scorched cot in a burnt out bedroom.
Most of the family’s belongings were also destroyed in the arson attack, including their furniture, utilities and valuables. A part of the upstairs bedroom also caved in, while the bar counter and lounge were completely ruined by the inferno.
Officers from Ashbourne Garda Station are investigating the incident, and no arrests have yet been made.
Gardai have also obtained CCTV from businesses in the area, but sources revealed that the two assailants were “well covered” and had worn hoodies to hide their identities.
It is being investigated whether a third man acted as a getaway driver for the pair.
Sources also described how the situation could have ended tragically.
“Whoever is responsible for this would have been aware there were several people in the premises and home at the time. We are very lucky that we’re not dealing with a number of fatalities here,” the source said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact investigating gardai on 01 8351515.