A mother of two has warned people to be on the look out for bogus tradesmen who were operating in the West Clare area at the weekend.
The men removed a number of roof tiles from the storm-damaged home of Ruth Gilhool and her family.
The roof of the family’s home near Ballyncally was damaged following storms earlier this year. The family had been saving to get the roof repaired when two men in a blue Ford Transit van called to the house on Friday.
The men offered to fix the damage for 350 euros. Ruth said she accepted the offer as it sounded like a good price and she was desperate to have the roof fixed.
She said rain had already fallen into one of the bedrooms. Ruth was at home on her own Friday when the men called. Her nine-year-old son, who is moderately autistic, was last year diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma cancer. Ruth’s husband was away with the couple’s son on a trip to Barrettstown – a specially designed camp in Kildare that provides therapeutic care for seriously ill children.
Ruth said that after examining the roof, the men told her further work was required. They said they needed to purchase materials worth €300 from the Dock Road, Limerick.
The man said they would take €300 for materials now and the additional €350 required for the work could be paid over the following week.
Ruth paid the money, which she had originally intended using to tax her car.
When the men returned on Saturday, they told Ruth the cost of completing the work had jumped to €3250. When Ruth and her husband protested, the man said he would ring his boss. After making a phonecall, he said he could do the job for €1650.
The man said he needed 1000 euros upfront for materials. After Ruth asked for identification and a business card, the man said another van in the area had all the documents.
Ruth said the can left and it has been seen since. It was after inspecting the roof; she noticed some of the tiles were missing. “I was afraid to be in the house they came back. I was afraid to be on my own. I locked myself in the house”.
Ruth contacted the gardaí about the incident and published photos of her house and van and details of the encounter on Facebook.
Since then, friends have rallied around and offered to repair the roof. “People have been so wonderful. I had a really heavy heart after this happened after I’d let people do this to our house and exposing us to danger. But after seeing the kindness of people in Clare, my heart had lifted so much”, she said.
There have also been reports of a similar van calling to homes of elderly people in the Ballynacally and Lissycasey area.

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