Candle killed mum after electricity in house turned off

Cormac Murphy

AN UNATTENDED candle was the likely cause of a fatal fire in a house in which the electricity had been turned off over money problems.

Ann (Nancy) Cumiskey (81) of Llewellyn Close, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16, was overcome by smoke as she tried to escape the blaze.

Mrs Cumiskey, who shared the house with her daughter and son-in-law, Clare and Paddy Gorman, had been using a candle after Mr Gorman turned off the electricity in the house, Dublin City Coroner's Court heard.

Investigating garda Lisa McHugh said Mr Gorman, who had been to the pub on the night in question, told her he had been angry at his estranged wife Clare for not paying the full amount of the electricity bill.

Garda McHugh agreed with the Dr Brian Farrell, the coroner, that there was nothing suspicious about the cause of the fire, which started shortly before 6am on September 27 last year.


Mr Gorman gave evidence that at about 4am he had woken up and seen Mrs Cumiskey, who slept downstairs, climbing the stairs using a bicycle lamp to get to the bathroom.

He had noticed a candle lighting on the radiator cover in the hallway below and asked her to blow it out, which she did.

Dr Farrell asked Garda McHugh if it was possible that Mrs Cumiskey subsequently lit another candle and the officer replied that it was possible.

Ms Gorman managed to get down the stairs and out the front door but she suffered second degree burns to her arms, right shoulder, upper chest and face in the fire.

Mr Gorman jumped out of his upstairs bedroom window. He suffered a broken ankle and smoke inhalation.

The coroner said there were no suspicious circumstances or third party involvement and recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.