Tributes have been paid to a couple who died in a house fire in Meath over the weekend.
Michael Clifford, 53, and his partner Charlotte McGuinness died from smoke inhalation. They lived in Mr Clifford’s family home, a single-storey bungalow, at Keenogue, Duleek in Meath.
His brother Henry said both families have been in the area for generations and his brother and Charlotte had been in a relationship for a few years.
The fire appears to have burned itself out and to have been contained inside the white-washed building. There was no indication to his brother Henry, who lives in a separate house at the back of the property, that anything was amiss.
Henry Clifford said it was only when a sister of Ms McGuinness called to the house just before 9am on Sunday that the alarm was raised.
“I don’t know how long it has been like that, we were here on Sunday — as you can see you don’t notice anything. The last time I seen both of them was Saturday night about 9pm.
Mr Clifford, who works in London, said the family was in shock. “It is hard to believeI was still living somewhat in hope as you do.”
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 is but it looks like a chair went on fire in the house. There is a lot of smoke damage, nobody could survive that.”
He said his brother was the youngest of four siblings and that Charlotte 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 autopsies. Two units of Meath fire service attended the scene along with units from Drogheda fire service.
A garda spokeman said there was nothing to indicate the fire was suspicious.
Gardaí will prepare a file for the Meath county coroner who will hold inquests at a later date.
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