Wednesday 26 October 2016

Exhibit to mark 50 years since St Michael's blaze

St Michael's Blaze
St Michael's Blaze

DUN Laoghaire locals are being asked for memories of the old St Michael's church on Marine Street to mark 50 years since it burned down.

An exhibit is being collated for the Lexicon library to act to help answer questions people often have about the old church and the fire that destroyed it.

In July 1965 a fire started in the organ gallery in the church and quickly took hold in the rest of the building due to strong winds.

"The story goes that there wasn't enough water pressure so when engines arrived they couldn't get water up to the roof," local studies librarian Nigel Curtin said.

"Other people also said they tried to pump seawater but by the time they had set it up it was too late."

The church was quite popular with visitors, and the event is well known in the town, Mr Curtin said.

Crowds of people gathered to watch the blaze (inset) and it is thought that some brave locals rescued ornaments and other valuables from the burning building.

"These are the stories we are hoping to collect - and photographs, too," he said.

"We have some funny stories so far, such as two boys who were playing down at the seafront when they saw the smoke.

"They ran up to the scene hoping it was the school next door and they were very disappointed to find out the school was safe."

The great tower and spire were saved and a new church was built in the 1970s following fundraising efforts.

Already, the exhibition has had some success in gathering material.

There are photos of the fire and its aftermath as well as happier occasions in the church before it was burned down.

Some people have submitted photographs of weddings in the church from the 1940s before it was destroyed.

Anyone who wants to get in touch with some images or a story about the old church can contact localhistory@dlrcoco.ie.

Any photographs used will be scanned and returned.

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