The Dublin Whiskey Fire

Image: South Dublin Libraries

In 1875, a fire started in a warehouse on the edge of Newmarket Square holding 5,000 barrels of Whiskey.

Whiskey has a lot of alcohol in it and it burns like petrol.  Eventually the 5,000 barrels exploded and a river of burning whiskey poured like lava down Chamber Street, to Mill Street beside Warrenmount Presentation School and Cork Street near Saint Brigid’s setting all of the buildings in its path on fire.

People tried putting it out with water but the alcohol floated on top of it and it just spread the fire even further.  Chief Officer of the Dublin Fire Brigade, Captain James Robert Ingram had the idea to use horse manure to build dams to block the flow of the river of fire and with his quick thinking he saved the day.

The fire was huge and could be seen from all over Dublin.  In terms of property damage, it was one of the worst fires Dublin has ever seen.  The whiskey alone was worth over €6 million euro in today’s money.

Image: Dublin Fire Brigade

Thirteen people and a dog died but not directly from the fire.  When people saw whiskey pouring through the street of the Liberties some took every bowl and pan they could find and filled them up with whiskey, some even used their boots.  In the end the thirteen people that died, died because they drank too much whiskey.

As for the dog, it was wandering the streets, lapped up a lot of whiskey from the ground, went home, walked into the house, looked at his owner, walked upstairs to the first floor and threw himself dramatically out the window!

In Blackpitts, between the end of Clarence Mangan Road and St. Alban’s Road, near Scoil Treasa Naofa, there is a short street called Ingram Street.  This was named after Captain Ingram, the heroic Fire Officer.

Las Fallon talking about The Great Whiskey Fire

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