One of the first people on the scene of the fire at the convent buildings in Skibbereen today was The Southern Star’s digital manager, Jack McCarron.
Jack was returning to the office at 4pm when he saw thick black smoke billowing from the one or more of the buildings at the former convent complex.
Jack said his immediate concern was for two old men who were standing outside the flatlets, at the base of the complex, and asked if they needed assistance.
After being assured that they were safe and that the fire brigade was on its way, Jack started to video the fire as it took hold of the convent building and moved towards the rear of the beautiful old convent church.
Within a matter of minutes, he said the Skibbereen Fire Brigade had arrived on the scene and took charge of the situation, followed shortly afterwards by support fire crews from neighbouring towns.
The ambulance service was also on scene within minutes and it was the paramedics with the assistance of locals, including members of the Spearline team and boxing coach, Colm O'Regan of COR Fitness, who brought the elderly to the safety of the Spearline building across the road at North Street.
Jack admitted he was shocked by the sight of the fire in a built-up residential area and said, ‘It’s a shame to see the demise of such beautiful buildings.’
He said he was impressed by the surefooted and decisive action taken by the fire and ambulance crews, and the swiftness with which the gardaí had put a traffic management plan in place and a diversion via the town’s by-pass.
There is an eerie silence to one of the two videos Jack posted on The Southern Star’s website. The video had little or no sound save for the crackle of flames as it burned through what was one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in the town.