Limerick General Advertiser

20 February 1816

  Mitchelstown, Feb. 12.—A most melancholy event took place yesterday morning near this town.  A farmer of some respectability in the neighbourhood, whose daughter was married the previous night, invited a number of his friends &c. to the wedding.  After supper, all the young retired to the barn to dance.  There was a fire in the barn as the night was cold, and after they had been dancing for some time they wished to have the fire extinguished, when one of the young men went into the dwelling house for some water, and seeing a large jug full of water, he supposed (but it proved to be spirits) brought it into the barn and threw it on the fire.  The barn immediately took fire as it had no chimney; before the door, which was locked could be opened, dreadful to relate, a number of them were burned to ashes! and such as found their way out were miserably scorched.  Sixteen have been already interred, and about twice the number are despaired of; among the latter number is the bride— the bridegroom is severly scorched, but will recover.  A young gentleman who has just come from the melancholy scene, says he never saw so dreadful a sight— men and women lying on the outside of the ruins, so disfigured that their parents could not recognize them! ! The uncle of the young man who was married, and his daughter are among the dead. They have not got out all the bodies from under the ruins yet, but it is supposed, from every account, that about 20 persons were burned to death.

23 February 1816

Further particulars of the melancholy effects of the fire at Mitchelstown.

  “ Mitchelstown, Feb. 14.—Since my last I have learned the following particulars:—I omitted to inform you that the name of the farmer was CHAMBERLAINE; his young son; a man of the name BRONOGUE, his eldest son and daughter with two more of that name; a man of the name of NUNAN, an only son; a young woman of the name of CAVANAGH; two young sisters of the name of CLANCY; and two more females of the name of MAHONY, one of whom was to be married on the Sunday following, were burned to ashes.  Several beggars, who generally attend country weddings, were also burned.
  “ I have heard that four persons who were injured by the fire, have died in consequence.  I understand that there are no hopes of the recovery of four more.  A poor female fiddler, who was blind, lost her life; her little daughter, who was in attendance on her, made her escape, but was much injured.  From the appearance of the ruins and the bones found, it is generally conjectured, that from 25 to 30 have perished, besides those who have died since.  It is impossible to describe the distraction of the parents and relatives in endeavouring to discoiver some reminent of the remains of the unfortunate sufferers. ”

© Nick Reddan 2006

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