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Castlewellan fire kills young woman Ellen Finnegan (19) in bedroom above her family butcher's shop

By Claire Cromie

Published 16/01/2016

Ellen Finnegan (19) died in a bedroom above her family's butcher's shop in Castlewellan. Pic Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Ellen Finnegan (19) died in a bedroom above her family's butcher's shop in Castlewellan. Pic Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
The scene of the fatal fire at Castlewellan, Co Down, where a young woman died in a flat above Finnegans butcher's shop. Pic Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
The scene of the fatal fire at Castlewellan, Co Down, where a young woman died in a flat above Finnegans butcher's shop. Pic Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
The scene of the fatal fire at Castlewellan, Co Down, where a young woman died in a flat above Finnegans butcher's shop. Pic Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Fire service group commander Max Joyce at the scene of the fatal fire at Castlewellan, Co Down, where a young woman died in a flat above Finnegans butcher's shop. Pic Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
The scene of the fatal fire at Castlewellan, Co Down, where a young woman died in a flat above Finnegans butcher's shop. Pic Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye

A young woman has died in a fire above her family's butcher's shop in Castlewellan, Co Down.

Ellen Finnegan (19) was killed on Saturday morning when the fire broke out in the building in Lower Square, adjoined to Finnegan's butchers.

The blaze started at about 4am in the bedroom.

Paramedics tried to revive Miss Finnegan, but she tragically died at the scene.

It is understood Saturday was the third anniversary of her mother's death.

22 firefighters fought the flames to bring the fire under control in the early hours.

"Castlewellan is in absolute shock ," said local SDLP Councillor Laura Devlin.

“Ellen was a highly intelligent, strikingly beautiful young lady with a quick wit and sharp personality – a personality that she was renowned for. All of these attributes made her such a popular person.

"In these ways and many more she was a lot like her late mum, Nichola.

“The Finnegan family have owned the butcher's in Castlewellan for as long as I can remember. They are at the heart of the community and are loved and respected by everyone. The news this morning is just so hard to process.

“I visited Bartley this morning – all of the Finnegans and Halls are in my thoughts and prayers on this very dark day.”

Fire service group commander Max Joyce told the BBC it is not yet clear what caused the fire.

"The first thing I would like to do is pass condolences to the family - it's a tragedy for the family and a tragedy for Castlewellan, which is such a close-knit community," he said.

"Essentially the blaze itself was contained to a bedroom just over the butcher's and there was a fair bit of heat coming off it.

"Our breathing apparatus teams managed to make their way through, fought their way through, to get to the young girl."

Castlewellan Ladies GAA club posted on Facebook: "It is with great sadness that we wake up this morning to hear of the tragic death of Ellen, a beautiful girl that was a friend to many of the players on our & neighbouring teams. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bartley, the Finnegan family circle and friends of Ellen at this time. May she rest in peace. God Bless."

Friends and family lay flowers close to the scene of the fatal fire at Castlewellan, Co Down, where Ellen Finnegan (19) died in a flat above Finnegans butcher's shop. Pic Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Friends and family lay flowers close to the scene of the fatal fire at Castlewellan, Co Down, where Ellen Finnegan (19) died in a flat above Finnegans butcher's shop. Pic Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye

MP Margaret Ritchie said the tragedy would have a profound impact on the entire community.

She said: "It is difficult for most of us to contemplate the grief that is now being felt by this young woman’s family and friends but on behalf of myself and all the people of South Down I would like to extend our deepest condolences to them at this most difficult time.

“I would also like to commend the work of the Fire and Ambulance Services who acted courageously in their response to this emergency.”

South Down SDLP MLA Seán Rogers said: "My thoughts are with Bartley and his wider family circle.  This news is simply heartbreaking and the feeling around Castlewellan is one of utter shock.

"There is a great sense of solidarity in the Castlewellan community and they will support those who are so have been left devastated by losing Ellen at such a young age.”

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