Four children escaped an early morning blaze that killed their mother as fire swept through their home yesterday.
The children, all believed to be under the age of 12, and their maternal grandmother escaped unharmed after the fire broke out at the family bungalow in Brownstown, Newcastle, west Dublin, at around 2.15am.
Their 44-year-old mother, named locally as Una O'Haire, died in the fire that is believed to have started in a bedroom of the house located on a rural road near Peamount Hospital.
The fire completely gutted the roof of the red brick bungalow and caused extensive damage to one of the bedrooms.
The survivors, including the family's pet dog, were brought to a nearby relative's home where they were being comforted last night.
A neighbour said everyone in the area is shocked and devastated by the tragedy.
He said none of the neighbours had any idea that the house was on fire until the blaze was well under way.
"It's terrible," he told the Irish Independent yesterday. "My Dad woke up. He could hear something popping and looked outside but thought it was fireworks."
Other neighbours were too distraught to talk about the tragedy last night.
Floral tributes were left at the driveway of the house yesterday where a garda stood guard as officers from the Garda Technical Bureau conducted a forensic examination of the scene.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. More than two dozen firefighters from the Dublin Fire Brigade attended the fire.
Local parish priest Fr Enda Cunningham of St Finian's Church said the local community was still trying to come to terms with the tragedy yesterday.
"People are offering whatever assistance they can and rallying around the family," he said.
"Clearly they're still in shock and trying to come to terms with it."
It is understood that all of the children are pupils of St Finian's National School in the nearby village of Newcastle. Officials from the school could not be reached for comment yesterday.