Couple’s thatched house gutted in weekend blaze

A 130 year-old cottage that was transformed from a derelict house into a couple’s dream home was destroyed in a fire on Easter Saturday night.

The blaze took hold in the thatched roof of the house in Piper Hill, Hollyford, which is owned by Kathleen and Grant Ward.

“We’ve lost everything. We couldn’t secure insurance for the house because of the thatched roof”, Kathleen Ward told The Nationalist. The couple were sitting at home when a man banged on their door at 9pm on Saturday night last and told them there was a flame on the roof.

The couple, with great help from their neighbours Denis Fahey and Willie Quinlan, tackled the blaze with a hosepipe until the fire brigade arrived. It seemed to be under control before the brigade arrived but then flared again.

“The fire crews were fantastic, they battled the blaze from 10 o’clock that night until 8 the following morning”, said Kathleen.

Most of their possessions were destroyed. The couple were left with only ornaments given to them by their children and grandchildren, which they managed to retrieve from the charred remains of the cottage the following day.

“I couldn’t believe they survived, those items are of great personal value”, said Kathleen. Despite the devastation the Wards are putting a brave face on the situation.

“It could have been worse, at least we’re still alive and you have to stay positive”, said Kathleen.

The couple, who both grew up in the English city of Coventry, fell in love with the cottage when they visited friends who had moved to Hollyford. They have lived in the house for 21 years since its renovation and did it up again only recently.

Since the weekend they’ve been staying at the home of their friend Philip Ward (no relation) and are grateful to the people of Hollyford for all their assistance and offers of help.

“We’re just taking it one day at a time. The first step could be to demolish what remains and we’ll see where we go from there”, Kathleen stated.

The Gardai and fire office are investigating the cause of the fire.




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