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Tragedies that tested our heroes

THE deaths of 48 young people in the Stardust nightclub is seared in the memory of every Dubliner.

For Dublin Fire Brigade and ambulance crews arriving at the scene of the massive disco blaze on St Valentine's Night, it represented a horror beyond belief.

More than 800 young people had attended the disco in the Stardust in the early hours of February 14, 1981.

The fire broke out at about 1.45am and engulfed the hall so quickly that when the DFB arrived minutes later, it was beyond control.

They had to battle an inferno and poisonous fumes to rescue the dead, the dying and the injured.

The events that unfolded that night reverberate still, with the families of the dead campaigning for justice over the decades.

The massive loss of life had a devastating effect on the communities of Artane, Coolock and Raheny.

The tragedy prompted a major overhaul of the emergency services and led to Tribunal recommendations on fire protection and legislation, among others. The aim was to prevent another tragedy on the scale of the Artane fire ever happening again.

MASS murder came to Dublin on May 17, 1974, stretching the Fire Brigade and emergency services to the limit.

The Northern Troubles were under way and Dublin had experienced deaths from bombings on December 1, 1972, when two bus workers were killed in Sackville Place by a car bomb.Dozens were injured at Liberty Hall after another device went off.

The following month a car bomb in Sackville Place, killing another bus worker.

Nothing, however, could have prepared firefighter and ambulance personnel for the carnage when three no-warning car bombs exploded in the city on a busy Friday afternoon -- 26 people, including an unborn baby, lost their lives when the bombs exploded at Talbot Street, Parnell Street and South Leinster Street on May 17, 1974.

Firemen racing to the scenes found that many of the bodies were blasted beyond recognition.

Every available vehicle, including buses and civilian cars, were used to ferry the injured to Dublin hospitals where medical staff were overwhelmed by the numbers wounded.