Dancing Couple Stardust Memorial
Sculptor: Robin Buick

It is hard to believe that thirty one years have passed since the fire that destroyed Dublin’s Stardust nightclub in Artane, near Coolock, in the early hours of St. Valentine’s Day 1981.

The fire resulted in the death of 48 young people and injured and disfigured a hundred more. Even to this day, survivors and bereaved continue to suffer.

The fire had a tremendous impact on Dublin people and most of those killed came from the immediate vicinity.

On the tenth anniversary of this disaster, Dublin Corporation were asked to design and develop a memorial park to commemorate the tragedy. The main aim was to provide a park with a memorial, the design of which would be relevant to the tragic event.

The Stardust memorial park was opened on the 18th September 1993 on a lovely sunny day witnessed by hundreds of local people.

The memorial is a circular pool, 8 metres in diameter, the principal feature of which is a bronze sculpture of a boy and a girl dancing, designed by sculptor Robin Buick. Water is pumped by 48 jets in the illuminated fountain which surrounds the sculpture. Alas. the day I was there the fountain was off, but if you click on the link to Robin’s website, you will be able to see it in all its glory.

The pool is faced with limestone, which is also used as paving material around the pool. This area is enclosed by an incomplete circle, symbolising the short life of the 48 victims. The incomplete circle of 270 degrees forms an enclosure 20 metres in diameter around the entrance and its boundary is comprised of limestone piers with 48 railing panels symbolising the number of young people who lost their lives.

An avenue of lime trees is positioned 30 metres from the centre of the memorial. The park also contains a junior football pitch, an all-weather floodlit pitch, a playground, walks and plenty of tree planting all enclosed with mild steel railings on a pliant wall.

Coolock is a Barony which accounts for most of north Dublin city, from the coast in and stretching out to Swords. The civil parish takes in the land between the Tonlegee Road (as far as Donaghmede) and the Malahide Road, as well as the lands on either side of the Malahide Road between Darndale and Artane, and the lands either side of the Oscar Traynor Road on the approach to Santry.

Coolock has a history dating back over 3,500 years – a bronze-age burial site in the area dates back to 1500 BC. The settlement grew up around a small early-Christian church. The majority of the modern Coolock, was built-up as part of a programme of phased inner city slum clearance (between, roughly, 1952 and 1987).

12 thoughts on “Stardust

  1. Nick

    That’s a lovely sculpture. It’s good that there’s a permanent reminder of the awful tragedy that, as you say, must still cause so much sorrow.

  2. Grannymar Post author

    Nick – I was living in Northern Ireland at the time of the fire, but it hit me in the same way the La Mon fire did a few years earlier.

    Alice – I would have love to see it in full flow.

    Tee O – The park was quiet and I was in no hurry to leave this spot. I could almost feel the excitement of the young people at the dance before disaster struck.

  3. Rummuser

    Your writings bring out a fact about the Irish people that I did not know about. Their involvement with sculpture. You have written so many posts on them that I must imagine Ireland to be full of them everywhere.

  4. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana – In recent years sculpture has become more celebrated and recognised. Mind you many people still walk past without seeing it.

  5. speccy

    I was a teenager when this happened, and remember the shock and horror vividly- although I was miles away and knew noone, it hit home.

    The memorial is great. It’s so good to see the people remembered by the joy and vigour of dancing.

    Grannymar, you know you’re teaching us all about sculpture!

  6. Grannymar Post author

    speccy – When I first posted a photo of a sculpture I liked, the comments came asking for details. Now I try to give the answers before they are asked! 😉

  7. Teri

    Many years on and the tears are still flowing. The memories and loss cuts deep inside the hearts and the minds of the families and the survivors of the Stardust fire.

    Do the tears of the Northside of Dublin not matter to any Government?
    Governments who have chosen for many years not to seek answers for the broken hearted families and the forever traumatised survivors.

    Hang your heads low you in government who have chosen to ignore and abandon the bereaved and the broken hearted.

    Hang your heads low as you attempt to speak out for answers.
    Inaction over many years does not now allow you to have a platform to speak out in support of the families the deceased and the survivors of the Stardust fire…

    A whole country now holds contempt for Governments who has chosen to ignore the loss of so many of our young from North Dublin.

    Let us recall the facts:

    So many left to perish, suffer and die behind chained locked doors
    that became an inferno – a dungeon of death!

    The families, the survivors are marching -they are speaking out for their lost children, lost friends. We the supporters, as we join them on this journey for truth, we too speak out and we say –

    “If you are not now ready to admit your wrongdoing in this inaction over 25 years – then be quiet – Go back into your haven of disinterest –
    Of disassociation and allow the stardust victims to be remembered with humility and dignity by their families, their survivors and now also by their supporters.”

    Oh Jesus, hold them close
    Kiss away their pain
    Allow them to run and dance once again
    In your Garden of Freedom
    – Your Garden of Peace
    For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
    Shine Your Light upon us Lord
    So that we shall feel the warmth of your love
    As we continue our struggle for Justice…
    In the names of our children –
    In the names of our friends.

    1. Grannymar Post author

      Teri, apologies for my delay in acknowledging your comment, it seems to have slipped through the net without me seeing it. Your words are very moving and touched my heart. I grew up on the north side of Dublin when the site of the disaster was still a jam making factory. Although I was living in Northern Ireland on that fateful night, the news ripped through my heart.

      I love sculpture and like to share the pieces I see and photograph, with the followers of my blog. On this occasion, not alone did I share the sculpture, but the story behind it and from the comments above, I know it reached and touched people from India, several states in the United States of America, the UK Mainland as well as Ireland.


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