The Stardust fire was a fatal fire which took place at the Stardust nightclub in Artane, Dublin, Ireland in the early hours of 14 February 1981. Some 841 people had attended a disco there, of whom 48 died and 214 were injured as a result of the fire. The club was located where Butterly Business Park now lies, opposite Artane Castle Shopping Centre.
The Stardust night club and the buildings it is today are about 5 min drive from my childhood home, I remember hearing about the fire from when I was very young. I was born in the October of the year it happened, my mother, father, aunts and uncles all worked in the Stardust serving during the discos be it at the bar, or serving food, luckily for me my mother and father had given it up when they got married in 1980, the following I've taken from wikipedia as it has all the details better then i could write them.
"The fire was said to have started on a balcony inside the building, although since the tragedy substantial evidence has emerged that the fire in fact started from an electrical fault in the roof space, next to a storage room containing dangerously flammable materials. Staff attempted to extinguish it and failed; they then tried to contain it by closing the door leading to the balcony and ordering the users of a private room to evacuate. Guests in other parts of the nightclub were not informed, nor was an alarm sounded. The fire was first spotted in a seating area in the west section of the building, although the fire was only very small when first seen, a ferocious burst of heat and lots of thick black smoke quickly started coming from the ceiling, causing the material in the ceiling to melt and drip on top of patrons and other highly flammable materials including the seats and carpet tiles on the walls. The fire quickly spread into the main area of the club causing the lights to fail. This caused mass panic and patrons began desperately fleeing for an escape but found some of the fire exit doors to be locked or obstructed in some way, many were also trampled whilst trying to escape the blaze. The question of arson has recently been ruled out by investigators, as there was never any evidence to support the "arson" finding, even at the time of the tragedy.
The attendees at both the disco and a trade union function taking place in the same building tried to make their escape but were hampered by a number of obstructions. Some of the main fire exits turned out to be locked with padlocks and chains. Other fire exits simply had chains draped about the push bars. In addition to this, the failure of the lighting in the club led to widespread panic causing mass trampling as many of the patrons instinctively ran for the main entrance. Many people mistook the entrance to the men's toilets for the main entrance doors but the windows there had metal plates fixed on the inside and iron bars on the outside. Firemen attempted in vain to pull off the metal bars using a chain attached to a fire engine. Firemen rescued between 25-30 of those trapped in the front toilets. Seven people died in the toilets at the other side of the building while the Dublin Fire Brigade were attempting to rescue them. Many of those who had made it to safety became increasingly aggressive in knowing that their friends were still trapped inside, some taking their anger out on emergency services, at one point a fireman searching for a hydrant down the street was thought to be fleeing the fire and was assaulted by bystanders. Ambulances from Dublin Fire Brigade, the Eastern Health Board, Dublin Civil Defence, the Red Cross and other organisations were dispatched to the scene, many carrying up to 15 casualties, CIE also sent buses to transport the injured, And local radio stations asked people in the vicinity with cars to come to the club. The city's hospitals were overwhelmed by the influx of wounded and dying, in particular the Mater, Jervis Street and Dr Steevens' Hospitals.
A total of 48 people died in the fire. The community, with most of the dead coming from Artane, Kilmore and greater Coolock, was devastated, with many people being affected in some way. A tribunal of inquiry under Mr. Justice Ronan Keane concluded in November 1981 that the fire was probably caused by arson. This finding, which has been disputed ever since, legally exonerated the owners from responsibility. However, the inquiry was damning in its criticism of the safety standards.
The families of the victims and survivors fought in the courts for compensation, accountability, and, in their eyes, justice. The owners, the Butterly family, were nevertheless free to pursue their own claim for compensation against the city because of the arson finding - and were eventually awarded IR£580,000.
The aftermath led to a huge number of recommendations being made in relation to fire safety. Comparisons were made to the Summerland disaster of 1973 in the Isle of Man and the lessons learned in that jurisdiction. However, some basic rules, such as the provision of fire extinguishers and fire exits being left unblocked and obviously posted, which have since been implemented, could probably have prevented many deaths if they had existed at the time.
In 2006 the leaseholder and manager of the Stardust at the time of the fire, Eamon Butterly, planned to re-open licensed premises on the site of the Stardust on the 25th anniversary. Described as "insensitive", this action occasioned protests by the victims' families and their supporters. The protests lasted for 10 weeks and ended when the Butterly family agreed to erect a memorial on the site, and change the name of the pub from "The Silver Swan" to the "Artane House". In 2007, the bodies of five victims whom authorities were unable to identify were exhumed from a communal plot in St. Fintan's Cemetery, Sutton. The remains were identified with modern DNA analysis, and then given separate burials."
What you have to remember is most of the people at this disco were young people barely 17 some of them, on a night out after a weeks work, Coolock and the surrounding areas are working class areas, and some families lost two or three kids because "if your brother or sister was going sure you had to go too." 30 years after this tragedy the families are still looking for answers, Butterly has never ONCE apoligised to the fammilies of the victims. I don't know the man from Adam but i can tell you now if I ever met him I'd give him such a kick in the balls, what an ingnorant man to never say sorry after leaving fire exits chained closed and putting bars over windows so people couldn't get out, and to have the gal to try and re-open the same place for the same purpose, phew i just dont get it.
and i know everyone can say that how do you know the fire exits were chained etc.? there is a book called "They never came home" written about the stardust and it states at the start of the book that the local fire inspector had been out X amount of times in 79 and 80 and nearly 100 in 81 because each time he checked the fire exits locked with chains and padlocks, he told Butterly "now to do this, fire hazered etc." but it was still common practice for the security staff to chain the exits, or stack chairs and tables in front of them, or park vans just outside them so the door couldn't open.
sorry to be so morbid but this is still a raw issue for most of the commumity where i grew up,
may the 48 rest in peace and i hope their families get what they are looking for xox
thanks for listening to the rant