‘They Couldn’t Get To The Water’



Candles left outside the Carrickmines halting site following the fire last October

A year ago today.

A fire at an unofficial halting site in Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines, Dublin, killed 10 members of the same Traveller family, one of whom was pregnant.

Those who died were: Thomas Connors, 28, his wife Sylvia (nee Lynch), 30, their three children, Jim, 5, Christy 3, and six- month-old Mary; Willy Lynch, 25, his pregnant partner Tara Gilbert, 27, her daughter Jodie, 9, their daughter Kelsey, four; and Jimmy Lynch, 39 – Sylvia and Willy’s brother.

This evening, outside the Dáil, the Irish Traveller Movement with other Traveller organisations will hold a silent vigil in solidarity with the families at 7pm.

Those who wish to attend are asked to bring a candle.



Three Fridays ago.

On RTE’s Late Late Show.

Actor and filmmaker John Connors and Irish Research Council scholar in the Department of Sociology at University of Limerick Sindy Joyce spoke to Ryan Tubridy about their new documentary series on the history of the Traveller community.

Just before the very end of their appearance, Mr Connors raised the Carrickmines fire and – specifically – access to water on the night of the fire.

They had the following exchange:

John Connors: “Ryan, I actually have one important thing I want to say: a message from the Connors’ family – from the Carrickmines tragedy, obviously. They just told me to say that, a year on, they’re in the same position they were in, they’re in a rat-infested dump and they’re surrounded by electric pylons with no accommodation plan and a lot of the family have now gotten sick because of the toxins, a little child is very sick. And they all have lung problems.”

“And just, an important thing they wanted me to point out, on the night of the fire, that the ground was welded up, the fire hydrant was welded up so they couldn’t get to the water. Cause the council had welded it up a couple of weeks before – they wanted me to pass that message on.

Ryan Tubridy: “OK, I don’t know the details.”

Connors:We’re still looking for justice here but it’s been forgotten about: no one cares about 11 people being murdered by the State, you know?”

Tubridy: “I would hope people do care, a little bit but I don’t want to trivialise that matter by getting into that now.”

Connors: “No, I thought that you were getting ready to go so I said I’d have to get that one in.”

Tubridy: “I appreciate that but I also don’t want to get into a situation whereby we’d be glib about a story that’s profoundly sad and difficult for that family…”

Further to this…

Meanwhile, in a piece recalling the Carrickmines fire in Saturday’s Irish Times, Kitty Holland reported:

Jim Connors [who survived the fire] recalls being woken at about 3.30am by shouting. Two of his sons John and Jim were trying to get into the blazing mobile home. “I looked out. I didn’t know what was going on.”

He had used, over the years, a power hose to clean the site, connected to a hydrant directly outside. However, after complaints, he says the county council cut the water to the hydrant and welded it closed “a few months” before the fire.

The council says a working water hydrant was within 50 metres of the site “which Dublin Fire Brigade used without any impediment” that night.

Until the fire brigade arrived, however, Jim “had just a garden hose that you wouldn’t fill a kettle with”.

Watch back in full here

Traveller families hit by fire disaster prepare for anniversary (Kitty Holland, Irish Times)

Irish Traveller Movement (Facebook)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

37 thoughts on “‘They Couldn’t Get To The Water’

  1. spider

    Why would they have closed up a fire hydrant?

    If someone was misusing the water mains, then they may have caused the council to terminate the access. That’s only speculation, but if such an offence was carried out the people involved would have to bear some responsibility for having that water access closed to the services.

  2. Anomanomanom

    First off for that fire to happen to any one, traveller or not is awful. But to call the state murders is boarding on disillusion. Because and remember this, they settled illegally and were using a fire hydrant illegally which caused it to be blocked up by the council so the couldn’t use it. That’s their fault, its not some council or government officials fault.

    1. scottser

      it wasn’t an illegal encampment – it was a temporary halting site, the bays on which were allocated by dlrcc. the one they’re in now was to the rear of the ballyogan depot and again was not supposed to be in operation for more than a few months while they sought to rehouse the families who survived.
      it’s not right to go finger pointing in a tragedy like this but you’d have to question why the residents there started a fire on the site without a working hydrant. either way, blaming the victims for their own tragedy is pathetic carry-on.

      1. Anomanomanom

        I Apologise if the illegal site part was wrong, either way it’s an awful thing to happen. But blaming the state is just ridiculous. Its people like o’conner who boil the blood and does not help travellers who are decent. Take personal responsibility for your own life/actions its not always the states fault.

        1. scottser

          blaming anyone for this tragedy doesn’t serve those who died. a bit of perspective and respect it what’s needed now.

  3. Feidlim MacSásta

    Nation in official state horror at Berkeley balcony deaths, blame immediately directed at builder.

    Nation indirectly blames Carrickmines victims for their own deaths.

    Apartheid Ireland.

    1. spider

      Carrickmines families blame state and population for death by discrimination… Nation rationalizes the situation and finds that it is a truly awful situation and is not the fault of bigots, but the culmination of a number of unfortunate circumstances some of which were avoidable for various reasons…

  4. fluffybiscuits

    Sealing up the fire hydrants was done without thinking through the after effects. Travellers in Ireland live in the most appaling of conditions and this is modern 21st century Ireland. Have you seen the stats for Trveller kids that go to college? Society owes them …

          1. ahjayzis

            Or accept a council house rather than require one be built larger and to their own specifications.

    1. ollie

      Travellers live in the most appalling conditions, some with Porsches and BMWs.

      Some travellers live n terrible conditions, not all, and contrary to your opinion no-one owes them anything.

      Ask yourself this question, why were these travellers living where they were? Were they shunned by their community because they weren’t married?
      All some people in this country want (and not just travellers) is free everything.

        1. Anomanomanom

          No. So your logic is as follows… Group do something illegal and constantly, messing with a fire hydrant, council has to then block hydrant as its constantly being tampered with so its the councils fault. So maybe if it was not always being used it would have been there for this emergency, I think thats obvious.

        2. rotide

          That’s like saying Sheffield Wednesday FC killed the 98 at Hillsborough.

          Nothing is black and white and a statement like ‘the state killed these people’ is ridiculously so.

          1. Rob_G

            ‘The council says a working water hydrant was within 50 metres of the site “which Dublin Fire Brigade used without any impediment” that night.’

          2. rotide

            Sheffield Wednesday FC had a duty of care to visiting fans and they erected steel pens on the terraces. This is fairly black and white.

        3. ahjayzis

          Fire hydrant’s are not for use by the public – they’re for the fire services. The piece says the Fire Brigade had access to a nearby hydrant.

        1. Anomanomanom

          Travel if they want, but don’t trash an area. Then keep moaning about your rights. Or settle in one place and stop screaming about your “travellers rights”‘.

          1. postmanpat

            “Gloke, surt it waz like that befar we got here, now Krosh da fac out me way for I shoot ya”

  5. ollie

    The travellers were offered 2 alternative locations after the fire. One was “cursed” and the other was occupied by a family they were feuding with.
    Connors chooses to overlook facts to push his own profile, it’s patethic

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