A couple whose home was destroyed in a fire last March say that, only for the support of family and friends, they could not have faced what they had to alone.
Deirdre Dooley, a teacher originally from Clareen in Birr, and her partner Kevin Naughton, were lucky to escape with their lives when their mobile home, located on their dream plot of land in Ardmore in Connemara, caught fire in the early hours of March 2.
It's understood that the blaze broke out due to an electrical fault, and while the couple managed to escape relatively unharmed, with Kevin sustaining minor burns, all their life's belongings were destroyed by inferno. To make an already difficult situation worse, the couple had no insurance.
In the following days, as they struggled to come to terms with what had happened, Deirdre's sister Brigid told her of the fundraising site, Go Fund Me, and insisted Deirdre set up a page to allow friends and family support them through this difficult time.
Now just over two months on, Deirdre and Kevin are looking into securing their first modular home.
"We got loads of support from family and friends. We succeeded in raising just over €8,000 on the Go Fund Me page and we're going to use that towards a modular home," Deirdre tells the Offaly Independent. "What has been positive out of all of this is the kindness of your neighbours, your friends and your family."
The couple, who are currently living with Kevin's family, are working with modular homes experts, Big Red Barn in Mayo, to design what they hope will be their future home.
"Everyone has been so supportive and I suppose I just want to thank everyone for that. It has meant so much. We are hoping that by the end of summer we will be on our way to having a new home.
"After the fire you get time to take stock and it makes you appreciate more than ever what you have, because as we've learned, things can change in an instant," Deirdre continues. "We've learned to spend more time with others that we're close to and appreciate the little things.
Go Fund Me site
"We didn't hear about the Go Fund Me site until my sister Brigid told me about it. People wanted to help us but they didn't know how. And I really think it is a great resource for that. People might get you vouchers for delph and things like that, but without a home to put them into, there was little anyone could do. So that forum really allowed those who wanted to help us in the best way they could, and now that money will be used towards a deposit on a modular home.
"We were fearful of going into another mobile home again, and this situation has really highlighted how difficult it is to secure a mortgage from the banks to build a concrete home. There are so many others like us, people in their thirties and forties, who cannot secure a home because of the banks.
CMG Body: "But what this situation allowed us to do was to do more research into more sensible ways of living. And we're working towards and eco-house that doesn't break the bank, and will be a more sustainable way of living into the future."
CMG Body: While modular homes cost upwards of €40-50,000, Deirdre says a lot more work has to be done before they can secure their home, and currently her friends are looking into holding cake sales and party nights in a bid to secure more revenue.
CMG Body: "We're a long way off just yet, but we definitely have had a positive start from people. Everyone's pulling together and full of positive ideas. Sometimes I think we're still in shock, and we've been so busy we haven't had time to take it all in. Kevin's family have just been brilliant, they are so positive and upbeat anyway, it doesn't allow you to dwell on anything negative.
CMG Body: She concludes: "We're also very focused on securing something for the future for ourselves and that have helped motivate us. We will be on the same plot of land in Connemara, we worked hard to secure it, so we're not going to let the tragedy of the fire scare us away. When we are finally installed in our new home we're going to get it blessed, because we didn't do that with the mobile home, and we've become more conscious and a little superstitious of that. So hopefully soon enough we'll be able to invite those along who helped us through this to a blessing in the new home, a house warming if you will. I'd like to thank all those who supported us this far. I'm hoping to send out little thank you cards to all those who I'm not in contact on Facebook with".