Nearly a month has passed since fire ripped through the home and business of Paddy Reville near Wellingtonbridge. The well-known and respected dealer of antiques and collectibles had been out celebrating his birthday when he received a call saying that a huge fire had erupted at his business and was in the process of engulfing his adjoining home.
While Paddy lost everything in the blaze except the clothes on his back, he remains quite upbeat and has been blown away by the support he's received from the local community. A rock n' roll fundraiser is planned for Wellingtonbridge and a Go Fund Me page has already been set up in a bid to help get Paddy back in business.
'It's been a very emotional thing,' he said.
'When I got back to the house on the night, the fire was just in the process of spreading to the house. I got in and managed to pick up a photo of my boys and a painting of my young lad Aran who died a few years ago. It was eerie in the house and you could feel the heat. I knew I had to get out of there.'
'It was heartbreaking to think that you're entire family history could be wiped out in an instant.'
Meanwhile, Paddy's shop was completely gutted and all of his stock wiped out. 'My house was insured, but I'm at a complete loss of the stock,' he said.
'It's stuff that you'd never get back. I can't exactly go to Musgraves Cash & Carry and get more. There were old medals, pikes from 1798, old books and records; stuff that's not easy to come by. I prided myself on being able to source unusual items that other people couldn't get. My biggest customers were film crews and theatres looking for items for their sets and also pubs and places like that.'
One such customer was photographer Caolan Barron whose parents Johnny and Nuala own The Sky & The Ground in Wexford. Upon seeing the devastation that had been visited upon Paddy, he took it upon himself to set up a Go Fund Me page which saw nearly €4,000 raised in the first 24 hours to try and help get Paddy back in business.
'At times you'd think that there's no community spirit anymore,' a touched Paddy said. 'I can tell you that 95% of people are very good. When the chips are down, they have your back. They want you to get back up and going again and I'm very grateful to everyone who's been in touch to offer their help and support.'
While Paddy is now faced with the prospect of starting his business again from scratch, he seems relatively upbeat and ready to take on the task.
'As bad as it is, it could've been a lot worse,' he said.
'There was no loss of life; nobody was injured. If you had some fatal condition in the morning, it's the type of thing that would be completely irrelevant. I'm hoping to get back up and running in some shape or form soon. Every day you're closed is a day you're losing money and people are forgetting about you.'
'The whole thing has been very emotional on a whole load of levels,' he continued.
'Things are quieter. I could speak with a hundred people in a day, but as things stand I'm not seeing anyone. You're at a loss as to what to do with yourself. I'm staying in a pub in Foulksmills at the moment and I'm very grateful for the room I have there, but it's not your own place. It's not like being able to come into your own home and lie on the couch and read a book. It's things like that you'd miss.'
Paddy also has some strong advice for the general public following his ordeal.
'I would urge people to make sure and have proper working smoke alarms in their houses,' he said. 'I was shocked how quickly everything was gone. In the space of 15 minutes there was nothing left. If I had been in there, it would've been touch and go as to whether I would've got out.'
For those wishing to contribute to the fundraising efforts to get Paddy's business back up and running, you can do so by searching for 'Help Paddy Reville' at www.gofundme.com.