Victim in Limerick cigarette fire 'was a gentle soul'

By David Raleigh

A mother of two has died in a house fire, which is believed to have started by a lit cigarette.

Geraldine Keane, 47, was found dead in her bed in a house she shared with her partner Patsy Downes, at Daly's Avenue, Janesboro, Limerick.

The body of the grandmother of one, who smoked, was discovered in an upstairs bedroom by firemen who were alerted to the blaze at around shortly after midnight.

Ms Keane -- who has a daughter and son from a previous relationship -- was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her devastated partner Patsy said they had been socialising together in a local social club before he dropped her home, and returned himself to a local pub, only ten minutes before the blaze ripped through their bedroom.

"She went into bed. I put her into bed. I took matches off her so she wouldn't light a cigarette. Obviously she found a lighter and lit a fag... and she probably fell asleep," Mr Downes said.

Paying an emotional tribute to his partner of 11 years, Mr Downes, 67, said: "She was a jovial person. She lived singing and dancing. She was a gentle soul."

"Of course, I loved her. We had our ups and downs but we were united. No matter where I'd be, she was always with me. I'd bring her into town or wherever she wanted to go."

It's a double tragedy for Mr Downes who lost his first wife Lilly to breast cancer in 1999.

Ms Keane who was described by her neighbours as "a gentle lady", had been on a night out with her partner at The Pavilion social club prior to her tragic death.

They had been celebrating with locals who won an over 40s soccer tournament.

Ms Keane's body was removed from the house at around 9.30am this morning and a post mortem will be carried out at University Hospital Limerick.

Her son, 20, had only returned to Limerick at 9am from competing in a baking event in England, when he was given the tragic news.

Her daughter, 26, travelled to Limerick overnight to be with her devastated family.

Gardaí are conducting house to house enquiries but do not believe the fire was started maliciously. They are still trying to determine the exact cause of the fatal blaze.

The fire was largely confined to one bedroom, which was completely gutted.

With tears welling up in his eyes, Mr Downes said: "They (firemen) told me there was extensive damage done. The Garda told me she probably didn't feel anything -- that the smoke would have got to her first."

Gardaí at Roxboro Road are investigating and can be contacted on 061-214340.

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