Carrickmines fire survivors fear they will be homeless

Traveller family have been told to leave their temporary accommodation by April

The Traveller family who survived a fire at a temporary halting site in Carrickmines, Dublin, last year in which 10 people died, fear they could be made homeless again next month.

Josie Connors, who is now caring for her grandchildren Thomas (4) and Mick (7) who also survived the fire, has been told by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council they must leave the temporary accommodation they are in by April.

The two boys are the surviving children of Josie’s son Thomas (25) and his wife Sylvia (27) who died with their children Jimmy (5), Christy (2) and Mary (five months).

Sylvia's brothers, Jimmy Lynch (39) and Willy Lynch (25), also died in the fire as well as Willy's fiancée Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4).


In the aftermath of the fire the council planned to temporarily accommodate the 15 surviving members of the Connors family at a site nearby, adjacent to houses at Rockville Drive.

Protests by residents saw the council change their plan, and the family was placed at a council-owned car park on Ballyogan Road.

“I don’t even remember moving here,” said Josie.

"It was all a blur after the funerals. We'd been in hotels and in a centre in Glencree. It was terrible moving here.

“We had a lovely quiet, private place in Glenamuck. We had chalets we had bought ourselves and it was quiet.”

The car park at Ballyogan, at the foot of the Dublin mountains, is a large, well-maintained site.

Five mobile homes have been provided, along with out-houses with washing and laundry facilities, for which the families pay rent.

Large electric pylons dominate overhead however, and strong winds have knocked fencing over several times since the families moved in, destroying a trampoline and a swing set that had been bought with donations for the seven children on-site.

Height restriction

It is also about 700 metres in off the road, and a barrier at the entrance with a height restriction of 2.1 metres means emergency vehicles cannot access it.

“Three weeks ago we had to call an ambulance for one of the babies and they couldn’t get on the site. They had to treat the baby at the gate,” says Josie.

“If there was a fire here a fire engine wouldn’t be able to get here. I am very worried about that.”

A group housing site had been identified in Shankill but the family turned it down as accessing the children's schools would mean crossing the M50, a journey that could not be done on foot.

Another Traveller family has since moved in.

Ms Connors said the children had started asking when they could return home.

Missing his mother

“They are doing very good in school. The school is looking out for them. Thomas is doing all right.

“He’s beginning to talk about it, about his mother. He misses her.”

The family has been moved repeatedly over the last decade, said Josie.

They had been on sites in Sandyford and Rathmichael before the council provided the temporary site at Glenamuck Road in 2008, saying a permanent site would be provided nearby.

“I’m just afraid we’ll be dragged out of here now in three weeks. It’s not safe here, but we have no answers from the council.”

A spokesman for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said it had “worked hard to provide accommodation for the Connors family following the tragic fire at Carrickmines.

“A temporary site was identified at Ballyogan. The council is endeavouring to find an alternative location where permanent accommodation can be provided for this family and the council will continue to work with the family in this regard.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times