Two Young Girls Remembered in Local Ceremony

60th Anniversary of the Fenian Street Tenement Collapse

by Louise Whelan

On June 12th 1963, Numbers 2a, 3 and 4 Fenian Street tenement houses collapsed. This resulted in the deaths of two young girls, Linda Byrne aged 7 and Marion Vardy aged 8. The two girls, who were described as inseparable by their loved ones, were returning home after buying some sweets in the corner shop when the dwelling fell on them.

Lynda Byrne, Marion Vardy
Lynda Byrne and Marion Vardy

The collapse was blamed on the fast drying out of water-saturated bricks after a period of heavy rain and prompted demands for poorly maintained and dangerous tenement buildings to be demolished.

This tragic event highlighted the dreadful housing conditions of Dublin in 1963 and the national outcry of response sparked significant social housing development.

Fenian St tenement collapse
Fenian St tenement collapse

In the 18 months after the collapse on Fenian Street, over 1200 Georgian houses in Dublin were demolished.

Paul McKeon and the residents of St Andrew’s Court Flats in Pearse Street did their community proud by holding a 60th commemorative event to remember Linda and Marion with guest speakers from the Dublin Tenement Museum, and past and current Inner City residents. It followed a two minute silence for the young girls whose lives were sadly cut short on that fateful day.

Lynda Byrne, Marion Vardy
In memory of Lynda Byrne and Marion Vardy

Free food and refreshments were provided by Dublin City Council with live music from The Pullovers who set the tone with their folk Irish ballads. The current inner city community in the flats also highlighted the desperate need for social housing today, not only for themselves as a community but also at a national level. Neglect of the flats and of the community is a really big issue and they will continue to fight for more resources.