Castlewellan fire tragedy victim named as Ellen Finnegan (19)

The scene in Lower square Castlewellan where Ellen Finnegan perished in a flat fire in the early hours of Saturday morning. PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
The scene in Lower square Castlewellan where Ellen Finnegan perished in a flat fire in the early hours of Saturday morning. PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA

The young woman who died as a result of an overnight fire in Castlewellan has been named as 19-year-old Ellen Finnegan.

More than 20 firefighters tackled the blaze, which was reported around 4am, and recovered Ms Finnegan from the first-floor flat at Lower Square.

Despite the efforts of fire and ambulance service personnel to revive her, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The flat is above the family’s butcher shop run by Ellen’s father Bartley.

South Down MLA Seán Rogers has said: “This news is simply heart-breaking 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 have been left devastated by losing Ellen at such a young age.”

Mr Rogers’ SDLP colleague, Councillor Laura Devlin said the town was in “absolute shock”.

Cllr Devlin said: “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 butchers 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.”

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

NI Fire and Rescue said there was no smoke alarm fitted in the flat and a senior NI Fire and Rescue commander has urged anyone without an alarm to “get one today” to prevent further tragedies.

Castlewellan Ladies GAA team posted a message on Facebook expressing their sadness at the death of Ellen.

It read: “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.”

A message from Assumption Grammar said: “We are saddened to share the news of the death of our pupil, Ellen Finnegan. Our thoughts & prayers are with Ellen’s family and friends.”

Sinn Fein’s Chris Hazzard extended his condolences and said: “I have no doubt that the community will rally in support of the family in the sad time ahead.”