Community devastated by fire tragedy

The close knit Mullies and wider Manorhamilton communities have been devastated by the deaths of three members of the same family in a house fire in the early hours of Saturday morning last.

The close knit Mullies and wider Manorhamilton communities have been devastated by the deaths of three members of the same family in a house fire in the early hours of Saturday morning last.

Dessie McDonald (75), his wife Patsy (77) and their daughter, Patricia (34) were sleeping in their two-storey home at Lisnabrack near Manorhamilton when the fire broke out downstairs. A passing taxi driver noticed the blaze and raised the alarm shortly after 2am.

Fire services from Manorhamilton, Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon all attended the blaze which is thought to have started in the kitchen. However they were unable to save the family.

It is understood that Mr McDonald bought the home a number of years ago and had substantially refurbished the property. He returned to his native north Leitrim to live following his retirement from his job as a bus driver in New York. Mr McDonald was joined by his wife Josie and daughter Patricia and the couple’s two other daughters lived in the US and the West of Ireland.

Superintendent John Furlong, in charge of the Garda investigation into the fire, said the examination revealed no indication that the three people died as a result of foul play. It is believed that the fire may have broken out in the kitchen area, but forensic investigations are still continuing into the cause of the blaze.

Manorhamilton based councillor, Sean McSharry described the family as “quiet and unassuming”. “It is a terrible tragedy, the whole area has been left numbed by this,” he told the Leitrim Observer.

Local Sinn Fein TD, Michael Colreavy, a neighbour of the McDonald family said they were “highly regarded and respected in the area”.

“It is tragic that three lives should be taken this way in the run-in to Christmas. I want to express my sincere condolences to the family, relations, neighbours and friends of those who died. I want to commend also the emergency services who attended the scene and worked so valiantly - it can sometimes be forgotten by a community that these valiant frontline public service workers face traumas that the rest of us can only read or hear about,” he observed.

The poignant sight of three coffins lying in the local church in Mullies on Monday evening bore silent testimony to the devastation brought by the loss of this close-knit family. Their funeral was held yesterday (Tuesday) at the Church of the Annunciation, Mullies.