Fire crews battled the Foley's tearoom fire for most of Monday (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Fire units from Dundalk, Ardee, Dunleer, and Carlingford battled to control a fire that destroyed the thatched roof of Foley's tearooms in Castlebellingham until late last night.
The devastating fire was still smouldering up until
In a social media update, the owners of Foley's revealed that the fire appeared to have started on the outside of the thatch at the rear of the building.
The news of the fire at the much-loved tearooms was met with great sadness by locals.
Writing on social media, Foley's said: 'The messages of support and love both privately and on social media really have meant a lot to us and have helped in some way to make today a little easier to bear.'
'To all those who came down, gave us a hug, a handshake and a kind word, again thank you so much. For all the offers of help, offers of vans and storage and help in the big clean up that is ahead in the next few days... we are gobsmacked by the kindness of people.'
Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough described Foleys Restaurant as a ‘treasure in Castlebellingham’ after news spread of the brutal fire.
Cllr McGeough said “My heart goes out to the owners and to the staff of Foleys. This is not only a loss for them but also a loss to the wider community of Castlebellingham. Foleys was a focus for tourists who always found a traditional Irish welcome in the thatch covered restaurant. This will leave a hole in the heart of the village.”
The emergency services were also praised for helping staff clear out 'probably 80% of the furniture and items from inside the building and for being on the scene within 10 minutes.'
Foley's staff went on to thank the fire crews saying: "We thank them from the bottom of our hearts. They have now been here for almost 12 hours...mighty men and women."
However, the owners of Foley's have vowed that they will be back soon. They said: "So, a bad day, but certainly not the last day in Foleys Tea Rooms we will be back... 300 years cannot be wiped out in a day! In fact, Joe (O’Donovan) assures us that Foley's curio shop 4 doors down, will be open and trading tomorrow. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine"