Dungiven stunned by house fire tragedy

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The tight-knit community of Dungiven has been shocked by the tragic death of 84 year-old Gerry McNicholl, who died yesterday in a house fire yesterday.

The blaze at the house in the Coolnasillagh Road area was reported at 1.40pm.

Dungiven curate Fr Frank Lynch said the entire Dungiven parish would be stunned by the sad news.

“This is a great tragedy for Dungiven and the farming community and his family and grandchildren are in a state of shock,” he said yesterday.

“Gerry was just a great character, a gentleman, and he was so well-known, so respected. He could always make you laugh. He was always very happy and had a great sense of humour.”

Fr. Lynch said the late Mr McNicholl had a wide family circle and the news would devastate the community.

“I went up to the house and everyone was just so distraught. Dungiven and the Benedy area is so close knit and this will hit hard. People are stunned that such a tragedy could happen.”

Dungiven man and former MLA Francie Brolly knew Mr McNicholl well.

“It’s very sad news. Gerry was a well-respected man. He had a wonderful sense of humour, which I think he must have inherited from his father. He was well-known and well-respected, This will hit people hard, especially in the Benedy area. It’s very sad news.”

The area was sealed off for several hours yesterday. Police say a post mortem will be carried out.

“At this stage, police believe that there are no suspicious circumstances,” said a spokesperson.