Inquest hears how relatives made desperate efforts to save children from Carrickmines fire

Inquest hears how relatives made desperate efforts to save children from Carrickmines fire
The scene of the fire.

Relatives made desperate attempts to save children trapped in a burning portacabin during a devastating fire at a Dublin halting site.

A wooden pallet was placed at the window of the unit to allow relatives reach inside and search for signs of life.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard harrowing evidence from surviving residents of the Glenamuck Halting Site of how children were retrieved from the bedroom of the burning portacabin through the window.

Jim Connors Junior, who was not present in court due to the traumatic nature of the evidence, described in a deposition how he reached inside and ‘grabbed a child.’

Mr Connors was in the kitchen of Thomas and Sylvia Connors’ portacabin on the night of the fire, which broke out around 4.30am.

“The children went to bed at 8pm. Thomas was smoking his weed. All the adults were drinking in the kitchen. It was a good time, not a word of an argument. It was 2am when I was leaving and we were all drunk,” Mr Connors said in his statement.

Later, he was woken by the screams of his wife Katie. He saw smoke and flames and ran to help.

He kicked in the door.

“I went inside and got hit by flames. I could feel myself burning and had to get back out,” he said. He broke two windows in an attempt to ‘let the smoke out.’

I ran to get a pallet and put it at the window and reached inside. I couldn’t feel anyone. Then I grabbed a child and reached back. I don’t know who I handed the child to.

The inquest heard from Kathleen Connors McDonagh, a sister of Thomas who became visibly upset in the witness box as her statement was read out.

The court heard that she was handed a six month old infant, baby Mary. She ran with the baby into her own chalet. She placed the baby in her bed and ran back outside to see if she could be of any further help.

“I ran around to mine and put her into my bed. I didn’t even really look at the child, I don’t remember her crying,” Kathleen Connors McDonagh said.

Within minutes, she said she noticed flames coming from the front door of her chalet. Her son John was standing outside and he said ‘Mam, Mary is not okay.’

She rushed to go back inside the burning chalet to save the baby, but firefighters stopped her.

Ten victims perished in the fire. They were Thomas Connors (27) his wife Sylvia (30) and their children Jim, five, Christy, three, and six-month-old Mary.

Willie Lynch (25) and his partner Tara Gilbert (27) who was pregnant, their daughters Jodie, aged nine, and Kelsey, age four also died.

The tenth victim was Jimmy Lynch (39) a brother of Willie.

The inquest continues with further evidence from relatives at the scene this afternoon.

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