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Family pays tribute to ‘Quiet Man’ dad

By Staff Reporter

The family of an elderly New Lodge man who died this week after a fire in his home have spoken of their ‘true gentleman’ dad and of their grief at his tragic loss.

80-year-old Joseph McNally from Carlisle Road died on Tuesday morning as a result of the fire in his home early last Friday. The Northern Ireland Fire Service, who received the call to Joseph’s house at 6.30am, said the fire was being treated as accidental and was caused by a lit cigarette.

Joseph, who was known to his friends as Joe, is survived by his three daughters, a son and a nephew whom he and his wife Kate had raised. His wife died ten years ago.

Cathy McKay, one of Joseph’s three daughters, spoke of the family’s heartache at their father’s death but said the support of the local community had been a great comfort to them all.

“It’s been a terrible time for us but loads of people have come to us to give their sympathies and no one has had a bad word to say. Everyone has said the same thing, that he was a ‘true gentleman’.”

Cathy added how Joe was also known as the ‘Quiet Man’ due to his gentlemanly demeanour.

“Everyone knew him as the ‘Quiet Man’. He lost our mummy, Kate, ten years ago and he was never the same, but he was always a wonderful man.”

Cathy’s sister Sandra Smith spoke of her father’s work ethic. The New Lodge man had previously worked as a sanitation worker.

“He was a grafter,” said Sandra. “He worked all his life and he raised his children and his nephew who he took in and raised as his own.”

The family added that their distress at his loss had been made worse by the fact that the body had still not been released to them by Wednesday afternoon and would not be released until Thursday, just one day before his funeral.

“They told us he would be with us by now (Wednesday afternoon), but now they’ve said it’ll be tomorrow,” said Cathy.

“The funeral’s on Friday and we don’t know what’s going on.

“We know in our hearts that it wasn’t foul play and the police haven’t interviewed anyone that was there, so we don’t understand what the problem is.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said that the police had requested that the coroner carry out a forensic post-mortem in order to rule out any foul play in Mr McNally’s death and that this can take time.

Mr McNally was one of three people to die in recent days due to domestic fires. A 61 year-old man died in Rostrevor and a woman in her 70s died in Larne after fires in their homes.

Dale Ashford, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said; “On behalf of NIFRS I would like to extend my sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased at this difficult time.

“Sadly, these incidents, all involving people aged over 60, serve to highlight the tragic and potentially fatal consequences that smoking in the home can have. I am urging people to take some time to check in with their older neighbours, family members or friends and consider their fire safety. Check that they have a smoke alarm and test it for them to ensure it is working.

Joe is being waked at his daughter’s house in Elmfield. His funeral will take place on Friday morning at St Patrick’s in Donegall Street at 10am followed by interment at the City Cemetery.

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