‘Mam, what time did we get burned?’

Date sparks recollection of horrific attack, writes Jimmy Woulfe

LITTLE Millie Murray was sitting down for breakfast with her brothers and sisters yesterday morning at their Limerick home when the radio news reader told listeners it was Thursday, September 10.

Hearing the date Millie looked over at her mother, Sheila and asked a question that few mothers have to hear: “Mam, what time did Gavin and me get burned at?”

Even at the tender age of seven, this little girl trembles when September 10 is mentioned.

It was on that day three years ago that Millie and her four-year-old brother, Gavin, received horrific burns when a youth, assisted by two others, threw a petrol bomb at the family car at Pineview Gardens in Moyross.

Since then they have gone through multiple skin graft operations at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

Sheila said: “I’ve lost count of the number of operations they have had. They still have creams put on their wounds at school (St Munchin’s girls school) every day and when they come home in the evening.”

While the physical wounds have improved thanks to the talents and dedication of the medical team at Our Lady’s Hospital, the psychological scars still fester.

Sheila said: “Only the other night, Gavin woke up after having a nightmare that the house was on fire. He was freaking out and I had to take him around the house at three in the morning to reassure him there was no fire and give him hugs. And yesterday evening I was cooking in the kitchen when a smoke alarm went off. The next thing Gavin was trying to get out the front door. He was in his pyjamas as he was getting ready for bed. There were tears in his eyes and he was terrified.

“Only this morning as we were sitting down to breakfast the announcer on the radio gave out the date and on hearing it Millie said to me ‘Mam, what time did Gavin and me get burned at?’”

She said that while Millie and Gavin look a lot better, they still have bad scars on their bodies.

The children rarely mention the attack, but out of the blue it re-emerges, just as it did yesterday as the family had breakfast.

Sheila said: “It comes up in bits and pieces, occasionally. One day in the kitchen Gavin said ‘Mam, I didn’t feel anything when I was burning in the car’. That was the first time he spoke about it and he did not say anything else. A friend of Millie’s got a gorgeous outfit recently and Millie loved it. But she said she could not get one like it as it would show off the scars on her arms and legs. You don’t know what’s going through their little heads.”

Surgeons have told Sheila that Gavin will need implants to his head to help restore his hair.

But reconstruction work on one of his ear’s burned off by the petrol bomb will be put back until he is older.

Sheila said: “The surgeon said he wants to leave that decision to Gavin when he is old enough to decide for himself as it will need a lot of surgery.”

Sheila, 37, and her eight children – ranging in age from 20 to four – were provided with a large house at the Old Cratloe Road before Gavin and Millie returned home from Crumlin after undergoing life-saving surgery.

Three youths were jailed for the attack.


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