Northern Ireland news

'People just loved Jennifer'

Jennifer Dornan was a devoted mother and much-loved neighbour who "changed people's lives", writes Andrea McKernon

Friends Andrea Gallagher and Tanya Watson. Picture by Ann McManus.
Andrea McKernon

SCORES of neighbours, friends and family gathered outside the charred remains of Jennifer Dornan's once neat and tidy home yesterday as teams of fire and forensic officers began their investigation into the cause of the blaze which cruelly snatched the mother-of-three's life.

At first, many were too distressed to speak; their quiet vigil, held in yesterday morning's cool rain, spoke volumes of the high esteem in which the 30-year-old was held.

Such was the ferocity of the blaze that as it ravaged the house, the roof had collapsed and the intense heat had blown out the upstairs windows.

To a woman and man, friends and neighbours said that Ms Dornan was a devoted mother who kept a clean and tidy house.

She was intensely house proud and put all her money and efforts into making the property a home for herself and her young family.

Ms Dornan's remains were still in the house as a crane was brought in to survey the damage and investigators sought to establish the cause of the deadly blaze taking aerial shots of the house.

One friend said: "We'll stand here in the rain for as long as it takes, but we will be here when Jennifer's body is taken out. We need to be with her. She would do the same for us."

Many of the residents in Hazel View are young families and mothers and fathers in what appears to be a close-knit community, with neighbours in the same age group and same stage in life.

They support each other, socialise together, run in and out of each other's homes and care for each other's children.

Two of her close friends, Andrea Gallagher and Tanya Watson, described her as a maternal woman who loved children and having them around her.

Men and women cried in the street; they stood surrounding a play park overlooked by Ms Dornan's house; a female friend carried a simple bunch of yellow roses, which she laid in tribute; further distress swept through the bystanders as news spread that her children had been told of their mother's death.

Questions were also asked as to how the blaze had started, and why smoke alarms had not alerted her to the danger.

Ms Watson said: "Jennifer was a bubbly person and she was like a mother to all the children in the street and also all of us.

"She was a strong pillar of this community. People just loved her.

"You might have only met Jennifer once, but you would always remember her. That was the impact she had on people. People just loved her. We all loved her."

Ms Gallagher said her friend was a mother who was motivated.

"Her kids wanted for nothing. Her house was spotless - she'd never leave the dishes unwashed for a second.

"She would be in your house and if your dishes weren't washed, you would go upstairs for something and when you came down, Jennifer would have them washed, dried and put away. Jennifer changed people's lives."

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