THE nephew of a pensioner who lost his life when his house went up in flames on Tuesday night has recalled how he tried in vain to rescue his uncle from the inferno.
Ned Hyland, 77, died after a fire broke out at his home in Castlequarter just outside the village of Kilbehenny, shortly before 10 oâ€™clock.
Despite the best efforts of his nephew, John Breedy and neighbours, to rescue the popular retired farmer, he was found in an upstairs bedroom and was later pronounced dead.
â€œWe got the phonecall from Community Alert and we came straight away but there was nothing we could do. We tried, but it was gone too far. He was in his bedroom,â€ John told the Leader this Wednesday.
A ladder was located and attempts were made to access the pensionerâ€™s bedroom but the smoke and flames engulfing the farmhouse proved too much.
â€œWe were trying to break windows and all that but there was nothing we could do. It was an old house and it just took off,â€ said John who ran the farm with his uncle. Johnâ€™s mother, Margaret - the late Nedâ€™s sister lives nearby.
Emergency services responded and fire units from Kilmallock, Mitchelstown and Fermoy attended at the scene.
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined but according to officers it may have started downstairs in the house where Ned lived on his own.
Neighbour Moss Fitzgerald was alerted to the incident as he made his way home from a Community Alert meeting.
â€œThe fire brigade passed me out on the road. I got a shock when I saw them turning up my own road and out by the church. I got a bigger shock again when I saw them turning down towards Nedâ€™s house,â€ he explained.
â€œThere is a field beside the house and a lot of people just gathered there â€“ a lot of locals and community people.â€
They immediately thought the worst.
â€œThe house was well ablaze,â€ said Moss. â€œI must say that the fire brigade were on the scene very quickly. I think there was a total of eight fire brigades. The water tankers were drawing water from the local Mill River,â€ he continued.
â€œListening to what people were saying, Ned raised the alarm himself and it went through to Dublin and it then alerted his nephew. They tried to get in but were beaten back by the smoke. By that time the fire brigade had arrived. It was an eerie kind of a sight. We stayed around a bit and we werenâ€™t long learning of the sad news.â€
Ned and his nephew John would work the farm together each day. â€œWe used to soldier away every day together,â€ John recalled.
â€œHe liked his farming, doing his gardening, looking after his cattle and potatoes. The farming was his life. He was a very decent man,â€ he said. â€œHe would go to Mass every Sunday morning at 11 oâ€™clock in Kilbehenny. He had good neighbours â€“ his neighbours helped last night.â€
A loyal Fianna Fail supporter, Ned canvassed for many years with former Fianna Fail minister, Gerry Collins. â€œHe was a huge Fianna Fail supporter for years, worked very hard for Fianna Fail and would have canvassed for Gerry Collins for many, many elections,â€ said Cllr Eddie Ryan from Galbally.
â€œNed was a lovely, jolly kind of a man and great company â€“ you would love to meet him and talk to him. He was very well versed in politics.â€ Ned was also described as being ahead of his time in terms of farming. â€œNed was one of the first to change with the times. He had a modern milking set-up when nobody else had it,â€ said Eddie. â€œAnd no doubt he was a good neighbour as well,â€ added Moss Fitzgerald.