Disastrous Fire on William Street (March 1913)

"The Premises of Mr. George Clancy, after the disastrous fire in which three lives were lost. Other occupants of the house at the time of the outbreak were rescued." - Irish Independent (2/4/1913)
“The Premises of Mr. George Clancy, after the disastrous fire in which three lives were lost. Other occupants of the house at the time of the outbreak were rescued.” – Irish Independent (2/4/1913)

The events of the 31st March 1913 in Limerick City (taken from my live tweet session in 2013)

“The time is midnight. William Street, so busy during the day is now quiet, those who live on the street are all inside their homes. Nothing stirs on the street except Mr. Joseph Griffin who is locking up his shop (No. 54) for the night.

He suddenly hears the “repeated crash of glass” and loud cries of “Fire!” coming from further down the street, he runs to help. He sprints further along the street and sees that George Clancy’s premises, a drapery, is on fire (No. 48).

The fire started on the ground level (which is the location of fire escape) and to the rear of the building (location of the stairwell). This mean that the five people inside the building are cut off and their only means of escape is via the front windows (the 3rd and 4th floors)

Mr. Griffin sees George Clancy (the owner) at the 3rd floor window and his assistant, Michael Higgins at the 4th floor window. The fire is spreading rapidly. Luckily someone had left a ladder outside Tyler’s Boot Stores (which was in the process of being repainted) on the same street.

Griffin was then joined by James Ledden (who was staying in the building beside Clancy’s) and James Dickson (Mungret St.) They used the ladder to rescue George Clancy, but soon realised that the ladder was too short to reach the 4th floor where Higgins was.

Improvising, James Ledden rested the ladder on his shoulders, and helped by the other men, they managed to reach and rescue Higgins. Sadly, there were still three people left inside. Young George Clancy (14), who was the owner’s nephew from Kilkee, Co. Clare, Mary Daly (40) a domestic servant and Peter McDonagh (35) who was originally from Co. Cavan. The Fire Brigade and the Royal Engineers arrived on the scene but it was too late to save them, all three succumbed to the smoke and the flames. The brigade did succeed in preventing the spread of fire to the adjoining buildings. The fire brigade equipment was later criticised as being unfit for purpose. Mary Daly and Peter McDonagh were buried in the City and George Clancy’s remains were removed to Kilkee. Hundreds of schoolchildren in the City attended young Clancy’s funeral, after which they they escorting his remains to the railway station.

The Limerick Corporation Fire Brigade and crew at the fire station on Roches Street (1880) via Limerick City Museum
The Limerick Corporation Fire Brigade and crew at the fire station on Roches Street (1880) via Limerick City Museum

Later that year (September 1913) Limerick Corporation responded to the criticism and purchased a “most needed” new steam engine for the Fire Brigade worth £550.”

from Guy's Directory (1914)
from Guy’s Directory (1914)

Newspaper clippings
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