Irish mother tells of ash raining on baby’s pram as Australian fires continue

‘You’re choked with the smoke, and every afternoon the atmosphere is orange and the sun is this weird pink colour’

Kate Byrne with daughter Saoirse and husband Sam. “I woke up one night at 2am and I honestly thought that I’d left my cooker on and that something was burning”

Kate Byrne with daughter Saoirse and husband Sam. “I woke up one night at 2am and I honestly thought that I’d left my cooker on and that something was burning”

 

An Irish mother living in Australia has described how ash rained down on her baby’s pram in Sydney as bush fires continue to burn out of control.

Kate Byrne said the smoke and smell was unbearable despite the fires burning in places up to four hours away from where she lives near Bondi.

Kate, who is a sister to Meath East Fianna Fáil TD Thomas Byrne and Louth councillor James Byrne, described the daily atmosphere as orange, while the sun was “weirdly pink” due to vast amounts of smoke in the atmosphere caused by raging wildfires and record temperatures.

The new mum, who hails from Drogheda, Co Louth, said she took her seven- month-old baby out for a walk recently and ash rained down on the pram.

“I’ve never seen or smelled anything like this in the atmosphere in the nine years that I’ve been living here. I woke up one night at 2am and I honestly thought that I’d left my cooker on and that something was burning.

“I took Saoirse my daughter out for a walk one day to get some fresh air, which was a big mistake. Everywhere is so dusty and I actually saw ash falling on top of her pram.

“A guy we know left his trainers on the balcony overnight and they were full of ash the next day.

“You’re choked with the smoke, and every afternoon the atmosphere is orange and the sun is this weird pink colour. It’s crazy the colours you see, it’s not normal. I’ve never seen anything like it before.

“We’ve barely seen sunshine all summer, and on top of that there is no rain. Visibility is so bad you can’t even see the [Sydney] opera house while crossing the Harbour Bridge some days.”

After nine years Kate is about to return home to Drogheda with her family in the new year to take up a job with Tourism Ireland.

“It’s been a very tough year as I lost my dad [former Drogheda councillor Tommy Byrne] but we are excited to be coming home. Australia has been good to me and I’ve made great friends and had invaluable life experiences but it was never going to be forever.”