In July 2018 the nation held its breath when news reports confirmed that an Irish man had tragically lost his life in the wildfires in Greece.
Clare man Brian Westropp-O’Callaghan and his wife, Zoe Holohan, had been married just four days when the unspeakable tragedy occurred on what was supposed to be their fairy-tale honeymoon. Ultimately 102 people lost their lives in the fires, and Zoe was one of the few survivors from the area, having been miraculously rescued from the boot of a burning car just seconds from death.
Zoe suffered severe burns all over her face and body, and that day was the beginning of a life that she had never planned for. She has now written a remarkable new book, As the Smoke Clears, where she speaks for the first time about her life with Brian, the heart-rending story of their attempt to flee the inferno, the unimaginable pain of seeing her beloved husband lose his life before her eyes, and what her life has looked like since that fateful day.
In As the Smoke Clears Zoe shares her deeply personal journey through a life-altering year. A year of grappling with the loss of her true love and partner, learning how to walk, talk and use her limbs again, and a future facing PTSD and a heavily scarred body. Through the inconceivable darkness, Zoe managed to find hope through progress, positivity through the actions of others, and even humour.
Zoe’s authentic voice shines through in her writing, resulting in an inspiring love letter to her husband and to her life that is yet to come. Her reflections on inheriting and preserving Brian’s legacy are rare and thought-provoking, and will inspire the reader to look inwards. At a time when the world as a whole is healing from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Zoe’s story stands out as an exemplary tale of what we can withstand, even with the odds against us.