Couple who died in house fire hours after hearing of new granddaughter mourned in Cork

John and Gabrielle O’Donnell had neighbours in for tea and cake to celebrate birth of baby Hannah

A couple who died in a house fire in Cork earlier this month, just hours after they heard the news of the birth of a granddaughter overseas, will be laid to rest on Wednesday.

John and Gabrielle O’Donnell had neighbours in for tea and cake on April 4th after they received a phone call that their daughter-in-law Grace had given birth to a baby girl in Doha in Qatar.

Several hours after they celebrated the birth of baby Hannah, a daughter to their son Mark, the couple perished when a blaze broke out at their home in Lower Glanmire Road in Cork.

The couple, who lived for many decades at their terraced home in Cork city, were well liked and respected in the area. They were formerly of Achill Island. John was aged in his early 80s and Gabrielle was in her late 70s.


Their funeral notice reads that they are survived by their son Mark and John’s sons, Damien and John. They are also fondly remembered by their extended family.

John and Gabrielle will lie in repose at Jerh O’Connor funeral home on Coburg Street in Cork on Tuesday from 5pm to 6pm. Their requiem mass will take place at 2pm on Wednesday in St Patrick’s Church in Lower Glanmire Road with funeral afterwards at the Island Crematorium, Rocky Island, Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.

The fire broke out at their home shortly after 11pm on April 4th with the couple being located close together in the early hours of the following morning.

Cllr Joe Kavanagh, who lives in the area, said that the “tight-knit” community was ‘rocked’ by the death of John’s and Gabrielle.

“The couple have lived here all their lives. Their son Mark is in his forties. He is a long-haul flight captain and pilot and flies for Qatar Airlines.

“They (had twelve hours) as (new) grandparents and twelve hours later they were dead.”

Cllr Kavanagh said that the couple were well thought of on the Lower Glanmire Road.

“It is a very united place. The doors are always open on this road and one neighbour would be popping in to another. There is a great sense of community here.”

Neighbours were evacuated from their homes for several hours as a precautionary measure after the blaze broke out. Units of Cork City Fire Brigade attended at the scene just minutes after the alarm was raised. The fire is being treated as a tragic accident.