The times we lived in: tragic fire on Parnell Street
Published March 28th, 1972
In March 1972 eight people, seven of them young girls, died in a fire at Noyek’s, timber merchants. Photograph: Dermot Barry
We try to choose funny, quirky, uplifting photographs for this slot. But news isn’t always uplifting. Today’s image is more than 40 years old, but it – and especially the event it illustrates, which ran on the front page in March 1972 – still has the power to sadden.
Irish Times reporter Godfrey Fitzsimons tells the story: “Eight people, seven of them young girls, died in Dublin yesterday when fire destroyed the offices and showroom of Noyek’s timber merchants in Parnell Street.”
The story continues: “The fire started just before 3pm and the building was enveloped in flames within minutes.” Such was the severity of the blaze, and the chaos that resulted from it, that it was difficult to identify all the victims, some of whom had been working at the firm for less than a week and were known to colleagues only by their first names.
A number of employees were injured when they jumped from the upper floors of the three-storey building; others escaped by climbing down ladders brought by workers in a radio and television firm across the street.
That firm was Peats Car Accessories, owned by brothers Geoff and Harry Peat. The latter told The Irish Times how he ran around the front of the building after the fire had caught hold and saw two people lying on the ground in front of the blazing shop.
Peats World of Electronics was still around until late last month, when it was forced to cease trading, while Noyek’s is now Noyeks Newmans.
Memories of the fire, however, still burn strong among the relatives and friends of those who died on that terrible afternoon, and who deserve a moment of quiet sympathy today: Martha de Burgh White, Nancy Candon, Mary Culliton, Dolores Finnerty, Patricia Gore, Mary Leader, Marie McNally and Jim Pryal.
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