Shock after couple perish in house fire
NEIGHBOURS of a couple who perished in a house fire said they had no idea of the tragedy that was unfolding.
Michael 'Mickey' Clifford (53) and his partner Charlotte McGuinness are believed to have died from smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in their home at Keenogue, Duleek, Co Meath.
There was no sign of any damage to the exterior of the neat cottage, but the interior of the house was badly smoke-damaged. Investigators believe the fire burned itself out.
The couple were last seen alive on Saturday evening and the alarm was raised after a sister of Ms McGuinness called to the house on Monday morning and found the couple dead.
Mr Clifford's brother Henry, who lives in a separate house at the back of the property, said there was no indication that anything was amiss.
"I don't know how long it has been like that, we were here on Sunday...you don't notice anything. The last time I saw both of them was Saturday night about 9 o'clock.
"Both were well known in the community, my brother was a big Meath (GAA) supporter," he added.
The family believes the couple died from smoke inhalation, and Mr Clifford said: "We have to wait and see what the results of the post mortem are but it looks like a chair went on fire in the house. There is a lot of smoke damage, nobody could survive that, which is evident."
He believes that he was probably the last person to see the couple alive.
He said his brother was the youngest of four siblings and that Ms McGuinness had a daughter.
Neighbour Michael Ferguson said: "I was inside the house and it seems to be more smoke damage than anything else. It is a tragedy and seems to have happened very, very quickly and hopefully it would have been a very quick death and they didn't suffer."
The bodies were removed to Our Lady's Hospital in Navan for post-mortem examinations.
Two units of Meath fire service attended the scene along with units from Drogheda fire service.
A garda spokesman said there was nothing to indicate the fire was suspicious.