The Stardust podcast invites listeners to understand the events of the fateful night

Roísín Phelan

In its latest podcast series, TheJournal.ie has brought back the tragedy of the Stardust fire into the forefront of the minds of the Irish people with an episodic podcast series. 

Telling the story through podcast form has allowed a younger generation to hear the story of Stardust. A story that most of our parents know inside out but that 2019’s teens and children may not be familiar with. 

Episode one of the podcasts entitled “The biggest show on the northside” was released by “TheJournal.ie.” on October 10th. The series thus far has told the story of the night, the build up and excitement of the teens beforehand and the terror of the fire and the aftermath.

48 people died that night and 214 were injured but the trauma of the night dug deeper for the families and friends of the victims who have fought and continue to fight for justice and recognition of fault.

The series contains harrowing testimony from people who were there on the night who vividly describe their experience. 

The Stardust nightclub was a cornerstone of social life in Artane, North Dublin in 1981. Teens came in their droves on the night of February 13th, looking forward to a night of dancing, drinking and having fun. However the night took a turn for the worst when a fire broke out around 1:30am. 

Most of the 800 plus people inside made it out through the exits that were locked, although in the panic many were crushed, separated from friends and trapped inside the building. 

Some exits were locked, others had padlocks and chains wrapped around them so as to appear as if they were locked. Several obstacles like this made it difficult during the evacuation, but when in a state of panic, pushing in hoards, unable to see through the smoke and struggling to breathe, they proved fatal. 

A tribunal in 1981 found that the fire was started by a probable arsonist. Although it lacked any substantial evidence to prove this. Many people believed that this conclusion was too easy and was an attempt at sweeping the tragedy under the rug, solving the mystery and giving the families something to blame.  

The ruling of arson also meant that the owners, the Butterlys received compensation, as they were considered victims of the perceived arson attack. 

It wasn’t until decades later that real progress in the investigation of the night started to happen. After nearly 40 years of campaigning the families were finally granted their wish of a clean slate of investigation and a fresh inquest which was ordered by the Attorney General in September 2019.

Inquests are carried out to find the cause of deaths. To do this they must find out when, where and how they died and  it is with this information that the families hope they will be able to find who is truly to blame for the fire. 

TheJournal.ie podcast is bringing the Stardust story to light again, just as this inquest begins. It is asking the question that the family have been asking for decades. Where is the justice? 

Roísín Phelan 

Image Credit: TheJournal.ie