ⓘ Waterford Jail disaster


ⓘ Waterford Jail disaster

The Waterford Jail Disaster occurred early morning on March 4th, 1943 when the wall of the old city jail at Ballybricken in Waterford, Ireland, collapsed onto nearby houses, killing nine people and injuring seventeen.

Old Waterford prison was built in 1727, near the military barracks in the city. The building was rebuilt in 1861 and continued to be used as a jail until 1939 at the beginning of the emergency, as World war II was officially known in neutral Ireland. The following year, the building was taken over by the Irish army and used as a meeting place and storage for local defence Forces, reservists in wartime.

The night of the collapse of the walls, there was a heavy rain and a weak wall, filled with water became porous on its foundations from disuse. At approximately 12:45 a.m. on the morning of the 4th of March, in the sixty-foot high wall, gave way and collapsed on a neighboring house, kings terrace and part of the street Barker killing and injuring several passengers, when they slept. The plot is more than a hundred feet from the wall fell in total demolition of four homes and damaging three more. Storage of peat army has made its contribution to the problem of dampness, what is the reason that the walls are porous. He also believes that additional pressure was placed on the old jail wall by rain-sodden turf, which will be stored in the premises by the army for heating purposes due to the shortage of imported coal.

A crowd of local emergency services in the removal of heavy debris, but there was nothing they could do, and nine bodies were removed from the jail ruins, including several children, the youngest was two years old. Those who lost their lives in the prison wall tragedy: James Roche at the age of 60 years, Thomas Roche, age 55 years, Maureen Roche at the age of 20 years, James Seamus Roche age 6 years, James Barrett, age 11 years, kitty Barrett age 9 years, Joseph Upton the age of 60 years, Patrick Upton aged 15 years and Betty Steward the age of 2 years. Seventeen people were injured.

The subsequent funeral was among the largest ever seen in Waterford city. Many hundreds of people took part in the funeral in the following days, as the city was plunged into mourning with shops and closing the blinds being drawn. Huge crowds of mourners lined the street as the group played the dead March from "Saul" by Handel. The prison was eventually demolished in 1949.

Over sixty years later, a special memorial was opened at Waterford city Council.

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