A COUNTY Limerick family are facing into the new year without a place to call home after their house was completely gutted in a raging fire on Christmas Eve.
According to gardai, the fire at Barna Cross, Galbally started as a result of an electrical fault.
The alarm was raised after John Gerard Ryan returned home in the early hours of the morning to discover the house going up in flames.
Mr Ryan had spent a number of hours waiting for a cow to calve in a nearby farmyard before he returned home and made the shock discovery.
His partner Tracey Barry was staying with a friend at the time while their four children were spending the night at their grandmother’s house.
Despite the best efforts of the fire service, the family lost almost all of their personal belongings in the blaze – including freshly wrapped Christmas presents.
“It is destroyed. Everything is more or less gone. We are just with friends at the moment and we will try and get ourselves sorted in a few days when we put our heads together,” said Tracey.
The fire service were alerted to the incident at 6.36am on December 24 and three units of the fire brigade from Kilmallock and Mitchelstown fought the flames for several hours.
Only a handful of items were recovered in tact from the house including a child’s bike and a photograph of one of the couple’s children.
The family who had resided in the modern dormer for the past eight years have been staying with friends over the Christmas period.
They have expressed their gratitude to their neighbours and the people of Galbally for supporting them through this very difficult time.
“Everyone was brilliant. I don’t know what to say. Lots of people dropped off bags of clothes and things for the children,” said Tracey.
Local councillor Eddie Ryan praised the local community for rallying around the couple.
“The one thing that was evident was that while it was a tragedy, there were neighbours coming from all directions to offer help and offer them a place to stay,” said Cllr Ryan.
“The main thing is that there was no injury or loss of life. It looked like a ferocious fire. It must be so devastating to see your home gutted - what a shame for them.”
Cllr Ryan said the incident was also a reminder of what the fire fighters have to do over Christmas “and the danger of the work that they do.”