I came across this photo recently. It was posted by O'Brien's Bar on their Facebook page. The photo was taken in Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick in Sept 1926 on the day after that village's darkest hour. The photo prompted me to look up an account of the fire and I found this following account on Boards.ie.
It was your typical rural Irish village of the 1920s, everyone knew each other, and the big city media would not have paid much attention to the daily events there. They wouldn't have been considered important enough.
But all that changed on Sunday, September 5, 1926 in the west Limerick village of Dromcologher.
The day started like every other Sunday in the town with it's residents readying themselves for Sunday Mass at the local church.
A hundred or so yards away from the church, at a local hardware store, Patrick Downing, a movie projector operator, had travelled up from Cork to meet local hackney driver, William "Baby" Forde, to partake in a little scheme to make a few pound between them.
Forde had hired the upstairs loft of the hardware store from Patrick Brennan, where they had planned to set up a temporary cinema. Two trial runs at the location were a success, and this was going to be the first time that they would charge an admission fee to see the showing.
Forde had realised that there were no movie showings in Cork on a Sunday, so he and Downing hatched a plan to bring films from the Assembly Rooms Theatre on Sunday morning, and have them back in Cork again by Monday morning. That way the theatre owners in Cork would be none-the-wiser about the fact that their film reels had been missing on the Sunday.
To show films privately was against the law, so to hide the fact that he was doing this, Downing took the movie reels out of their protective metal cases and placed them in a Gladstone bag for transport to Dromcollogher. The metal cases would still be in Cork, giving the impression that the films were where they were supposed to be.
The projector was set up on a table in front of the only exit to the loft and the reels were placed beside it. There were also two candles placed on the table to give light to them while they checked both the money people were going to be paying and to read the reels as they were being loaded into the projector to be shown. The candles were not placed in holders, but they were held in place by hardened candle wax. The showing was scheduled to begin at 9.00p.m. so as to allow people to attend Benediction at the church.
Locals then made their way from the church to the hardware store and climbed the rickety outside stairs to the loft and take their places in time for the screening. It was not long before there were two hundred people packed into the tiny room.
The first of the two films, a short movie called, "The Decoy," was shown without incident. By this time, one of the two candles on the table had burnt out. One candle remained alight.
Things turned for the worst after the second film "The False Alarm" began.
There are many different suggestions as to how the remaining candle was knocked over. Some say that young boys in the room were throwing their caps at it in an effort to extinguish it, in the hopes that they could make off with the takings without being seen. However this story has not been confirmed. What is known is that the candle did fall over onto a reel of naked film which exploded into flames. A former Brittish Army officer and local Garda, Sergeant Long was reported to have noticed this and got up to kick the film off the table, but another man got to it first and started using his cap to beat the flames, fanning them and causing the table and the film to be engulfed in fire. A panic ensued and Sergeant Long was carried out of the room by the fleeing crowd.
Another Garda, Garda Davis, who was also present, tried to demonstrate to the others that if they jumped through the flames, they would be able to escape. Many people followed his advice and escaped through the entrance. However, many people felt safer going to the opposite end of the loft to the fire.
At this end of the loft, there were two windows, which were barred. But because the loft had previously been used for clandestine IRA meetings during the War of Independence, one of the windows had the bars partially cut to facilitate a speedy escape in the event of an RIC raid.
One former IRA member, John Gleeson knew this and broke the bars allowing more people to escape. But with the heat, the remaining bars began to expand and one woman was jammed between them, cutting off this escape route.
Not long after this, the loft floor collapsed onto the hardware store room, which contained things like wood, glass and five gallon tanks of petrol.
August 1926 had been a dry month in the region. The two wells in the town were dry and the level of water in the nearby river was insufficient to help those trying to put the fire out. The nearest fire brigade was in Limerick.
The building was completely engulfed within a half an hour of the fire starting, and it was all over within an hour. By this time 46 people had died. Two more were to die later in hospital from their injuries. Only 21 of those who died were identifiable, and the only way to know the identities of the other 27 was to find out who did not come home that night. Of the 20 children present, 15 lost their lives. Half of the people who had perished were under the age of 25.
Gardai came from Newcastle West and sealed off the area. The army were also called in to help coffin the dead. So many were dead that they hadn't enough coffins. Special permission was sought, and granted to bury the dead in a mass grave on the grounds of the Church. All but one of the victims are buried there.
"The Burning" as it became to be known, was rarely spoken of in the area by the people of Dromcolloghar.
The three men at the centre of the whole affair, those being Brennan, Downing and Forde, were all charged with manslaughter at the Central Criminal Court, but were acquitted. Forde later emigrated to Austrailia where he was reported to have died after he replaced flour with stricnine when baking bread during a rabbit hunting trip.
The tragedy made international news, however some articles were not as kind to the people of Dromcolloghar as they should have been, notably this one from the September 20 1926 edition of US magazine, TIME:
“One William Ford, storekeeper in the village of Drumcollogher, County Limerick, welcomed to the musty loft of his barn last week a crowd of eager Irish peasants who climbed up the single rickety ladder, sat down in rapt expectance of Drumcollogher's first cinema show, a drama called The Decoy.”
Today, a large celtic cross on the grounds of the church and at the head of the mass grace contains the names and ages of those who lost their lives in "The Burning."
<<<<<<< In St. Michael's graveyard
I spotted this WW1 grave in the graveyard recently. Do we know his story?
Eric Luke's photo of Shane McGowan and Ronnie Drew, two giants of Irish music.
<<<<<< + Obituary to the late Maurice Stack and Eamonn Keane+
(Obituary from Boards.ie)
DEATH took place on 24th July 2014 of Maurice Stack, Woodbrook, Cahirdown, Listowel and formerly Moyessa, Listowel. Survived by his sons Billy and Stephen, daughters Maria, Cora and Margaret, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, nephews, nieces. Requiem Mass for Maurice Stack was celebrated on Sunday 27th July in St. Michael's College, burial afterwards in St. Michael's Cemetery, Listowel. Maurice was one of the oldest surviving students of St Michael’s College. His parents were Willie Stack and Mary Keane of Moyessa. Maurice was a local Agricultural adviser and had many stories from his school days and knew the background of most of the local political activists. Eamonn Keane was a great friend of Maurice. They agreed on almost everything. When Maurice Stack entered Arus Mhuire, Eamonn was his right-hand man and the sudden death of his close friend in July 2011 came as a great shock to Maurice. Eamonn Keane died suddenly on June 17th 2011. He lived at Kylbeg, Greenville, Listowel. Eamonn was survived by his wife Margaret, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. Following Requiem Mass at St. Mary's Church, Listowel on Monday 20th June 2011. Eamonn Keane was laid to rest at John Paul II Cemetery, Listowel. Eamonn worked at Teagasc and was well known in the locality, he was very interested in politics and was always at the count centre. <<<<<< Yesterday at the Lartigue Monorail Museum
The First International Peat Symposium took place in Ireland, 60 years ago in July 1954. Delegates came from 15 countries to discuss the latest technology in the peat industry. 20 years after an Irish delegation visited Germany and the Soviet Union to look at the industry there, now overseas delegates came to Ireland to look at our industry. This is the visit of the delegates to Clonsast Bog. <<<<<<<<< St. Mary's Parish Church Listowel ….progress July 26 2014
The project is on target and is due to finish on Saturday next, August 2 2014.
St. Mary's will revert from a building site to a place of worship.
New floor looking good
Radiators are being reinstalled. The old ones were good enough so no new expense there.
A new and safer ramp gives access to the altar.
Beautiful confession boxes are put back.
Great new lighting will highlight some of the lovely old features of the church.
<<<<<< + Tom Fitzgerald, Billerough and Church St. +
Tom Fitzgerald and Jim Cogan on Church St. in 2008. May they both rest in peace. This obituary to the late Tom Fitzgerald is taken from the North Kerry Board GAA website
Former Secretary of the North Kerry Football BoardBillerough, Listowel.
It was with immense sadness and much regret that we learned of the news that swept throughout North Kerry and beyond on Wednesday morning last July 16th 2014 of the passing of the late Tom Fitzgerald R.I.P. Tom was to so many, a person of the highest integrity through his profession as a Secondary School Teacher and then through his involvement and love of the G.A.A. He was always a great family man, despite the fact that an amount of his time did revolve around his profession and sport. Indeed it is at this time that we think especially of Tom’s family and particularly that of his beloved wife Marie, daughters Ann Marie and Juadth sons Paul and Gerry, daughters in law Denise and Olivia, son in law David, grandchildren, brother Kieran and sister Eileen nephews, nieces family relatives and wide circle of friends with whom our sympathies, thoughts and prayers are with at this sad time.
Indeed to go through everything that Tom achieved whether it be on the pitch or at the boardroom table or in the confines of the Tech in Listowel would indeed require a lot more space to highlight than what is printed here. It would require reams upon reams of paper to properly document everything that went into his most illustrious life. In this article we wish to highlight as much as possible his involvement particularly in the G.A.A. where he touched the lives of so many people. From his early childhood Tom was steeped in the G.A.A. and won a Minor North Kerry Medal with Listowel in the mid 40s. That followed on with a Senior North Kerry Championship medal again with Emmets in 1957.
An absence from these shores followed with Tom spending a few years in England. On returning he once again became involved with the Listowel Emmets Senior Team who were going through a bad patch at that particular time which was in or around the beginning of 1971. Through the efforts of the late Chairman Mikey Kennelly, Secretary Vincent Carmody and Tom a big drive was put in place to put together a good and young energetic team in which over 36 players were watched and looked at with a young squad emerging that would propel the Club into great success.
By the end of 1972 the Emmets Senior team had captured the North Kerry Senior Championship defeating Finuge in the Final. They also won the Co Junior Championship defeating Glenflesk in the Final. The North Kerry League was also to be theirs even though Emmets drew with Desmonds in the Final with the replay going out until June of 1973. To his credit Tom has had unbelievable success in both training and as a selector in so many various teams. He trained Emmets to great success, again capturing titles in 1995, 96 and 97. He trained Finuge and Ballydonoghue during the course of his career plus he guided and trained Feale Rangers who went on to win a County Under 21 title. He also trained both Listowel Vocational School and the Kerry Vocational School teams to glory at both local, County, Provincial and All Ireland levels. He also trained Shannon Rangers along with guiding the Kerry Juniors to All Ireland success.
But his role as an administrator was exemplary. His ability, time and patience will never ever, ever be matched, forgotten or surpassed by anybody whom had the privilege of either serving or working with him during the course of his 23 years as Secretary of the North Kerry Football Board. He took over the role as Secretary of the Board in 1972 on the retirement of the late Andy Molyneaux who proceeded to be appointed as Secretary of the Kerry County Board on that particular year. During the following 23 years Tom served under three different chairmen Dan Kiely, Gerald McKenna and Bernard O’Callaghan. Indeed if anyone had all the attributes that make a unique Officer of any Club or Board Tom Fitz, as he was more affectionately known, had all of these and more.
Those of us who had the privilege of either serving with him, or working with him, indeed we will always hold his friendship, courteous manner and style to the highest degree. His duties and loyalties were again to the forefront when he took the position of Chairman of the Emmets Club on the stepping down of the late Mikey Kennelly. In recent years he was made President of the Emmets Coiste na nOg Club a position he held with great pride until his passing from us.
Indeed the high esteem that Tom was held in was very much borne out on Saturday morning last as over a hundred school kids flanked his remains as it made its way from his home to St Michael’s College. Tom Fitzgerald R.I.P. gave so much to Club, Divisional, District and County G.A.A. has left us a legacy in his passing for which we will always be humbly grateful. May the sod in St Michael’s Cemetery in Listowel rest lightly on the gentle soul of our esteemed friend, colleague and comrade who now joins with so many of his fellow Gaels in that huge arena in the sky. An chuid file suaimhneach, a chara, Ní bheidh muid ag feiceáil a chuid leithéidí arís. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
His and Hers Hairdressing in Charles Street has got a facelift.
This is the town end of Charles St. this week. His and Hers Hairdressing is second from right, next to Carmody's off license, now closed.
<<<<<< Chapatti I hope that we in Listowel get to see the new play by Christian O'Reilly which played to rave reviews at The Galway Arts Festival last week.
I made a trip to Dublin and Kildare for a theatre break and to visit family
I did not come to Dirty Dancing with too high expectations and in terms of light summer entertainment it was an enjoyable night out, light hearted and untaxing. The mostly female audience entered into the spirit of things and their enthusiasm added to the atmosphere.
My theatre companion, Clíona, at the theatre before the show. The Bord Gáis theatre is currently on the market.
I took this photo from the upper tier at the interval. The Bord Gais theatre is really such a well designed gem, fitting perfectly into this lovely space.
After the show, with the place all lit up, I'd buy it myself if I had the money. I hope it goes to the right buyer anyway.
Controversy surrounds these chimneys as well with plans to demolish them being opposed by some Dubliners who see them as "iconic". They are across the city in a direct line with the theatre.
On a beautiful summer evening many people were chilling out on the canal wall.
I had heard about the teenagers who don wetsuits and come down to swim in the canal. They were thrilled to see my camera and put on a performance for me and the tourists on the Viking Splash Tour.
<<<<<< Kerry Crusaders
I found this photo on the Crusaders Facebook page. It shows some of those who took part in the Run Killarney event last weekend.
<<<<< FAI summer camp
A record number, 163 young people, participated in the recent FAI summer camp in Pat Kennedy Park, Tannavalla. The future is looking bright for football in Listowel.
<<<<<<< The Adventure is Over…. for now
Listowel's Savannah MacCarthy and the U19 Irish Ladies Football team failed to make it to the final of the European Championships last night. They have shown such talent throughout the competition that I have no doubt we will be hearing more of them in the future.
When I arrived for my break in The Derrynane Hotel I was surprised to see so many Tarbert people in the hotel lobby. It transpired that Joan Murphy was with a Tarbert group on a historical tour of the peninsula when they called in to meet their old friends, David and Mary O'Connor in the Derrynane Hotel before going home.
The hotel is a lovely family run, family friendly retreat in an absolutely beautiful corner of this lovely county.
The view from my hotel room window. The seagull came every morning.
Food miles are kept to a minimum here. This is the hotel's herb garden.
The O'Connors believe in supporting local producers and everywhere you looked in the hotel, there were local crafts on display and in use.
Derrynane Fairy Trail
Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of the fairy folk and this summer, in the company of my lovely grandchildren, I have enjoyed many fairy related experiences.
Derrynane is the best.
The woods are dense and the path surrounded by lush greenery. A great habitat for fairies.
The little fairy houses are beautifully constructed and often concealed in the trees. Looking for them was part of the fun.
This is the fairy restroom, a kind of public toilet for fairies who might find themselves short taken while out and about in the woods.
There is a ruined tower in the wood. Nearby a fairy architect has designed a replica for his fairy client.
I have given you just a taste of this magical place. The Fairy trail is in the woods beside Derrynane House. When you are finished visiting the fairies, you can have tea in the tearooms and visit Daniel O'Connell's chariot. Derrynane beach is also within walking distance so this is an ideal place for a day out with small ones.
Loom Banding; Summer 2014's craze
Three year old Cora gets to grips with her loom.
So many bands, so little time!
You can also make loom bracelets on your fingers.
Voilá Garvey's Super Valu are having a loom banding day on July 25th next with demonstrations and competitions galore.
By the way I could swear that I noticed that Rory McIlroy wore a band bracelet throughout the Open and his mother was wearing one on Sunday. Rory's Sunday one matched that fashion mistake of a grey and pink get up that Nike kitted him out in.
(Photo from Listowel Celtic's page)
Savannah and the Ladies U19 Football team will play their semi final in the European Championship on Thursday July 24 2014.
<<<<<<<< Homeward Bound
Photo: Athea Tidy Towns Lovely study of man and horse. I love the way the absolute trust between man and beast is conveyed…reins loose and hand in pocket, both in working mode yet totally relaxed…perfect harmony and understanding.
As part of the annual Stack Clan Gathering which took place at the weekend, the troop took a trip to the bog where Seamus Stack and his family introduced the visitors to the joys of a day in the bog. Ger Greaney took these photos.
Fleadh na Mumhan
This photo from Celtic Steps gives a good impression of the huge crowd that thronged Killarney's streets at the weekend for the fabulous outdoor concerts that were part of Fleadh na Mumhan 2014.
Photo; Gareth Maher
The Irish girls' under 19 team caused a huge upset in the European Championship by beating a fancied English team. Listowel Emmett's Savannah McCarthy scored one of Ireland's two goals. The very talented seventeen year old is one of the big stars of women's football. Then to crown their victory against England they went on to beat Sweden last night. Savannagh scored one of Ireland's two goals. Roll on the semi-final
Another less well known Kerry connection to the team was told to me by Mike Lynch
"the manager of the Irish Ladies' Under 19 team, Dave Connell, went to Minard to learn Irish as a lad back in the 1970s. He and his mates from the Cabra area enjoyed “The Gaeler” (as they called the Gaeltacht) a lot, particularly as Dublin were pretty good at Gaelic Football at the same time!"
Meanwhile in Muckross
On Muckross Traditional farms, the hay is saved in the old fashioned hay and is brought home to the barn on an old style hay float.
Old Post box
This old post box is at The Six Crosses
<<<<<< Lovely film of some of the highlights of Listowel Writers' Week 2014
Last week I attended a family wedding in a beautiful corner of the country. The wedding was in Glengarriff Lodge and Louise and Benny, the happy couple, are two of the three directors of Vantastival Music Festival This is an early summer music festival where families or others roll up in camper vans and tents to enjoy a weekend of music and fun. Many of the guests at this wedding were music folk or festival helpers or both.
Some chose to camp in the grounds of the lodge.
The wedding marquee was decorated with wild flowers.
Wild flowers in jam jars decorated the tables and tree branches hung with tea lights in jars provided the lighting.
The Lodge is not a hotel, merely a four bedroomed house that the family used as their base for the week of the wedding. The groom, Benny, cut down a tree in the nearby forest and made some of the seating for the day.
A river runs beside the lodge and the sounds of flowing water added to the musicality of the ceremony.
The ceremony was conducted in a clearing in the forest and the guests sat on blankets or on the terraced ground in front of the lodge.
Bunting and other adornments were hand made by friends of the couple. Louise and Benny are both artists.
The dress code was very flexible and accommodated all tastes and styles.
We ate a pig cooked on a spit and lots of salads and home made fare.
The marquee came all the way from Co. Louth. It is the Vantastivel marquee, but was also ideal for the wedding reception.
Cork Luxury Loos are just that; luxury, by portaloo standards anyway.
These 'flowers' were made from painted plastic bottles.
I am delighted to see Rory McIlroy back at No. 2 in the world rankings after a great weekend when he became the first European golfer to win three different majors.