herald

Tuesday 26 March 2019

'I lost so much' - Stardust orphan Lisa tells of her pain 38 years on from fire

Lisa Lawlor with her children Frankie (8) and Lennon (4) visiting the graves of her parents,
Maureen and Francis who died in the Stardust tragedy in 1981
Lisa Lawlor with her children Frankie (8) and Lennon (4) visiting the graves of her parents, Maureen and Francis who died in the Stardust tragedy in 1981

A woman who was orphaned when her parents were killed in the Stardust fire on Valentine's Day 38 years ago has said the ann- iversary brings even more heartache every year.

On what has been traditionally celebrated as a day of love, Lisa Lawlor (39) lost her parents, Maureen and Francis, when a blaze ravaged the Stardust nightclub in Artane on February 14, 1981.

The tragedy claimed the lives of 48 people and injured 200.

As her children begin to ask questions about what happened to their grandparents, mum-of-three Lisa said a dark cloud continues to hang over her family.

Emptiness

"This time of the year is not easy," she said. "It's very stressful and I get this emptiness inside me that's hard to cope with.

"I'm living this pain day in, day out, and on this day, with the significance of it being Valentine's Day and the love heart, it's a really sad time for us.

"I was only a baby and I grew up lonely and insecure.

Maureen and Francis Lawlor, who died in the Stardust tragedy in 198, pictured with daughter Lisa Lawlor
Maureen and Francis Lawlor, who died in the Stardust tragedy in 198, pictured with daughter Lisa Lawlor

"I had great grandparents, but when someone like your mother is gone it hurts, and my heart is in a million pieces."

Lisa was only 17-months-old when her parents were killed. An inquest was held in 1982 and there was a review of evidence in 2009.

However, relatives of those lost in the fire do not accept the outcomes and have campaigned for a fresh inquest to be held.

"I want there to be an inquest and then I can say, 'Well, I did what I could to see what has happened'," Lisa said.

"It would be a slap in the face if it doesn't happen, but there's no more I can do.

"I hope this inquest is re-opened, because it will give me something that will help me and will give me closure.

"I lost so much. I'm in counselling over 26 years and there's nothing more any counsellor can tell me that makes me feel any different than I feel today and tomorrow unless I could get my parents back."

Lisa's son Lennon (4) and daughter Frankie (8) have both been asking questions about their grandparents and have also struggled to understand what happened long before they were born.

"My son is four and said he's not going out to the grave any more because my mam isn't there," Lisa said.

"I say she's gone to heaven and he says, 'Where's that?'

Worrying

"My daughter is eight and she knows a little bit more, and my eldest son Craig, who's my best friend, has been asking if I'm OK and telling me 'Don't be worrying'.

"I know people always say this, but I don't think there's a single day that goes by that Stardust doesn't come into my head.

"It's all the time in the back of my mind. I had a real heavy heart yesterday and I will tomorrow.

"I'll be full of anxiety thinking about it."

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