On Saturday 11th February 2023, the 42nd Anniversary of the Stardust fire was commemorated at the site of the 1981 tragedy in the presence of a huge attendance of family members and relatives of the children who died. 48 children from the immediate area in Dublin lost their lives when the Stardust Night Club caught fire. Their families are awaiting the truth about what happened that night and are still seeking justice for their loved ones.
Following an emotional gathering in the marquee located alongside the site, Charlie Bird unveiled the impressive memorial wall which displays the faces and names of the 48 people who died in the Stardust fire on Valentine’s Day in 1981. It is a powerful visual monument to the children who died that awful night.
Earlier, Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust Families Committee had introduced a series of inspiring talks, songs, and poetry in which the children who lost their lives were remembered. Their everlasting spirit was present among the flickering candles and thoughts of their dignified families and friends and all those who attended.
Describing the remarkable Stardust relatives as his heroes, Charlie Bird expressed optimism that this will be the year when Truth and Justice will prevail.
“I have said this many times in the past, if the Stardust tragedy had happened in the southside of Dublin, you would not have had to wait for over four decades for the truth of what happened”
The North Dublin Community Gospel Choir sang “What About Us“, “Tears Stream” and “Stand By Me‘ in an emotional tribute to the lost young people of that night.
Christy Moore sang on video his once banned song “They Never Came Home“, which recounts the events of the Stardust Fire, commenting that:
“I never thought I’d be still singing it 40 years later still waiting for justice”
Jean Hegarty of the Derry Bloody Sunday Families and Trust mentioned that it took 38 years for their families in Derry to get justice, but stated that:
“We expected nothing from the British Government, but you had every right to expect more from your own government, our own government.”
Maurice McHugh, father of Caroline, read a poem “Remember Me” penned by Bernadette Ni Bheolain where the children make a plea from beyond their graves to remember them.
“Remember me, remember us as the scales of justice swing to and fro.”
As relatives of each of the children were presented with a photograph of their loved ones by Charlie Bird, there was a heavy sense of the shocking unfairness of the four decades of waiting for truth and justice. Yet there is also a growing sense of optimism, hope and expectation, as finally the relatives and families of the Stardust fire are about to be heard.
These families and survivors are now preparing their statements for the opening of the Inquests, which will commence on 19th April 2023.
We wish to thank Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust families for their kind invitation to the Cork Mother Jones Committee to attend the 42nd Commemoration for the Stardust victims. Antoinette was the recipient of the annual 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Award, which is given to those special people, who have campaigned against injustice. Her two sisters, Mary and Martina died in the fire, and her parents, Christine and John Keegan led the Stardust families campaign in spite of many disappointments and setbacks to establish the truth of what happened on the night and to seek justice for their lost children.
With special thanks to Robbie Kane of Dublin Live.