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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 14 November, 2018

'They were brilliant babies' - Mother appeals for information on fire which killed her sister and daughters

Gardaí believe the 1987 fire was started deliberately.


THE FAMILY WHO lost a sister and two daughters in a fire 30 years ago will make an appeal for information on tonight’s Crimecall.

20-year-old Barbara Doyle and her two nieces 8-year-old Mary Ellen Byrne and 3-year-old Kerrie Ann Byrne, whom she had been babysitting, died in the house fire at Church Lane in Kilcock in September 1987.

The fire broke out between 3am and 4am while the children’s parents Aidan (who is now deceased) and Elizabeth Byrne (Barbara’s sister) were attending a 21st birthday party in the area.

Earlier this year, gardaí said that new evidence showed that the fire had been started deliberately.

In the show, Elizabeth reflects on the precious few years she spent with her beloved daughters.

“They were brilliant babies…Mary Ellen being reserved and Kerrie being the ‘divil’, playing the tricks on the neighbours and Mary Ellen used to say ‘Oh ma you’ll never guess what she’s after doing..!“

Barbara was very close to Elizabeth and her two daughters. She was just starting her life as Elizabeth recalls:

“Barbara was 20, she was starting to plan her 21st birthday.”

PastedImage-88649 (l to r) Mary Ellen Byrne, her mother Elizabeth, Kerrie Ann Byrne Source: Garda Press Office

Pamela Doyle remembers her older sister fondly:

“Barbara was more sensible and probably got stuck looking after us a lot more than she probably wanted…she was a great sister.”

Elizabeth recalls the last moments she saw her daughters alive, “It was a normal Saturday night. We were getting ready to go out… I put Kerrie to bed and read her a story and she was asleep…and I got ready then… I came down and Barbara had arrived, and herself and Mary Ellen were sitting here… I went out to meet Aidan and we went to the party.”

Elizabeth and Aidan returned around 3am to find their home in flames.

After hearing about the fire Pamela and the rest of the family quickly arrived at the house:

“We just didn’t know where anyone was…We looked for them and couldn’t find them… then when the firemen got into the house, we were told they were here. I just remember them taking Mary Ellen, Kerrie and Barbara in three black bags…”

PastedImage-46539 Barbara Doyle Source: Garda Press Office

Elizabeth often wonders what life might have been like watching her daughters grow up.

“You go through the years. And even now their friends are all getting married… So we missed out on all of that…”

Pamela says what the family want now, 30 years later.

”We would find peace knowing what happened to them that night.”

Anyone who has any information regarding this case has been asked to contact the special incident room at Leixlip Garda Station on 01 6667800, or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666111.

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