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The inquest into the devastating fire that engulfed Messrs. George Clancy and Co.’s drapery establishment in Limerick resumed on Monday, shedding light on the tragic events leading to the loss of three lives – Peter McDonald, Mary Daly, and George Clancy Jr. The inquest took place in Barrington’s Hospital, with Dr J. Roberts, Deputy Coroner for the city, overseeing the proceedings.

The victims, Peter McDonald, a 35-year-old draper’s assistant; Mary Daly, a 45-year-old domestic servant; and George Clancy Jr., a 14-year-old, lost their lives in the fire that consumed the drapery shop located on William Street on the early morning of the 30th of last month.

Mr George Clancy, the tenant of the destroyed premises, provided his account during the inquest. He testified that he left the shop at 11:15 p.m. the previous night and went straight to his sitting room. Having retired around midnight, he was abruptly awakened by a crackling noise and a sense of suffocation. Upon looking out of his window, he was horrified to witness the shop transformed into a raging furnace.

In a desperate attempt to alert others, Mr Clancy opened his bedroom door and shouted “Fire!” He described how he then broke the sitting room window with a chair and continued raising the alarm. Despite the harrowing situation, he managed to escape using a ladder. Unfortunately, his stock was uninsured as the insurance had lapsed.

Additional witnesses, including Messrs. James Noonan, Joseph Griffin, and James Ledden, recounted the rescue efforts to save Mr Clancy and another individual, Mr Higgins, who was also inside the building.

Captain Sheehan, representing the fire brigade, provided crucial insights into the emergency response. The alarm was raised at 1:15 a.m., prompting the brigade to turn out within three minutes. Night-watchman Costelloe shared his actions upon discovering the fire, immediately alerting the fire brigade, although another individual named Darran had already reached the scene.

Dr Holmes, the resident surgeon at Barrington’s Hospital, confirmed that the cause of death for the victims was asphyxiation, underscoring the tragic nature of the incident.

The jury, upon due consideration, returned a verdict in accordance with the evidence presented, attributing the deaths to asphyxiation. The tragic loss of lives and the destruction caused by the fire prompted the jury to make recommendations.

The comprehensive coverage during the inquest highlighted the urgency of fire safety measures and the critical need for insurance coverage. The aftermath of the Limerick fire serves as a sombre reminder of the importance of community awareness and preparedness to prevent such tragic incidents. The community mourns the lives lost, and as the investigation concludes, the focus shifts towards healing and implementing measures to prevent the recurrence of such devastating events in the future.

Weekly Freeman’s Journal – Saturday 12 April 1913

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