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Dublin: 11°C Monday 17 May 2021

DCU lecturer (26) died from carbon monoxide poisoning during a house fire in Limerick

Grace McDermott died in a fire in Limerick last year.

Image: Twitter

AN INQUEST INTO the death of a DCU lecturer heard she died due to carbon monoxide poisoning during a house fire in Limerick.

Grace McDermott (26) had traveled to Limerick from her home in Dublin to take part in the Great Limerick Run on 30 April, 2017.

Limerick Coroner’s Court heard, how, having lost her hotel room key card, she stayed at a friend’s house after unexpectedly bumping into him while out socialising after the race.

The court heard the cause of the fire was likely due to a lamp falling over onto a couch in the bedroom where McDermott slept.

The lamp, the court heard, was missing its base and was resting against the couch.

Garda Sergeant Dave Bourke, a scenes of crime officer attached to Henry Street Garda Station, said the “initial focus” of the garda investigation into the fire centred around a laptop charger discovered in the room following the fire, however this was later discounted.

The investigation switched to the lamp, but he added:

We found no evidence of a lamp.

It was accepted by all parties the lamp could have been destroyed in the fire, or “torn” off by the force of water used by firefighters to douse the flames.

Paul Collins, a forensic scientist, who carried out a flammable field test on the partially destroyed couch, agreed under questioning from solicitor Cian O’Carroll, representing the McDermott family, that if the sofa had been compliant with the highest fire safety standards, it may not have occurred.

Limerick Coroner John McNamara said the only verdict he could return was an “accidental death”.


He said a number of unfortunate events had led to McDermott staying at her friend’s house after she had become separated from another friend with whom she had travelled to Limerick from Dublin and had planned to stay with in the hotel.

“A series of events transpired which unfortunately led to Grace being in the house where a lamp had fallen over, and it would appear, was the catalyst for the fire,” he said.

The room was fitted with a fire-door, the court heard.

McNamara said he intended to contact the Department of the Environment, recommending smoke detectors be fitted in every bedroom of every new home in the future, as a mandatory safety measure.

“I don’t know how practical it is…but I don’t think it would be a high price to pay to save some lives,” he said.

Fire-doors prevent (fires) escaping, but when someone is in the room, it’s giving them no chance.

Four others were in the house at the time of the fire but all four escaped uninjured.

Cathal Sheridan, a friend of McDermott’s, who invited her back to the house, described how he attempted to rescue her but was held back by his fellow housemates.

“My abiding memory is roaring Grace’s name. She was the nicest girl you could ever meet; the smartest, most intelligent girl,” Sheridan said.

McDemott’s father Robert, and her fiancé, Colin O’Neill, attended the inquest.

O’Neill, from Portmarnock, told the court gardaí gave him back the engagement ring he had presented to his beloved wife-to-be, following her tragic death.

Read: Tributes paid to “incredible person” Grace McDermott after tragic death in house fire

About the author:

David Raleigh

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