‘It’s been with us for all these years’: Artane remembers those lost to Stardust

Locals speak of the lifelong impact of surviving with relatives who escaped the flames, carrying ‘guilt’ for the rest of their lives

“I’m glad they got justice,” said a woman standing in front of a row of flowers beneath 48 faces. “Yeah, but what is justice?” The woman standing next to her replied.

They had just met in a nearby shop in Artane, both had purchased similar flowers, and both found themselves bringing the flowers to the same site where 48 young people lost their lives 43 years ago.

Martina Keane said it was important to pay her respects to the victims and their families, just 24 hours after a verdict of unlawful killing was given in all 48 deaths.

“I’m glad that they have some end to their long journey, over 40 years, for all those young lives,” she said.


One prominent memory from Geraldine Dunne, who was just 14 at the time, was the number of funerals in the days and weeks after, with seemingly countless hearses going up and down the Malahide Road.

“It’s been with us for all these years, every time you’d hear of the Stardust, you’d always think of them,” she said. “They shouldn’t have had to wait 43 years. While you’re delighted that they have what they want now, it’s just a shame that it took so long for them to reach this.”

They were just two of dozens of locals both directly and indirectly impacted by the tragedy. Most expressed relief that families could finally experience some form of closure; most expressed anger that it took so long.

They spoke against the backdrop of a memorial for the victims that was unveiled at the site of the Stardust five years ago.

Some recounted the horrors of hearing a “crackling sound” from their homes, a “glow” in the near distance above the site on the night, while others remain disturbed by the sheer luck of their loved ones who were meant to attend the venue that night.

Locals, many of whom pointed out on the wall those they knew, told how they have “lived under the shadow” of the tragedy for more than 40 years.

Doris Kilroy has lived across the road from the site for most of her life saying it impacted “everybody” beyond the local community in Artane.

The 72 year old now volunteers at a charity shop, directly facing the site and memorial, and said Thursday’s verdict was “closure for the families”.

“We went to the Stardust every weekend but I don’t think anybody ever thought that something like that could happen,” she said. “After it did happen, when you went to the pictures or when you went to a show, they actually showed you the exits. It raised awareness and maybe that’s the only thing that really came out of the Stardust.

“I remember that night, it was like corks popping,” she said, adding that one of her neighbours rushed to the scene with a hatchet to help victims escape while one of her close friends was in hospital for several months after with severe burns.

“It devastated everybody in the area and it’s still sort of raw when you come over here and you look at the wall and see the people who lost their lives,” she said.

“They were 48 young people with their lives in advance of them, some people had children and they grew up without a parent. Parents lost children, they lost grandchildren, they lost their whole future,” she said.

Other locals spoke of the lifelong impact of surviving with relatives who escaped the flames, carrying “guilt” for the rest of their lives.

Angie Costello is one of many passersby who hopes for accountability through a criminal investigation.

“There are parents who have died never knowing what happened to their kids,” she said, adding: “Everyone thought it was a total injustice and someone has to be made accountable for it and hopefully that will happen now,” she said.