Landlady says collapsed houses were ‘perfectly safe’
The inquest into the deaths of the six people who died in the tenement collapse at 66 and 67 Church Street opened yesterday at the City Coroner’s Court. In response to questioning on whether her houses were in a dangerous condition, Margaret Ryan, the landlady of the properties, told the court: ‘I thought they were capable of habitation and perfectly safe.’ Mrs. Ryan told the court that she had been served with a notice by Michael Derham, Corporation Inspector of Dangerous Buildings, about two months previously requiring her to fix a beam across the backroom in No. 66 and to fix a pier between No. 66 and No. 67. She had subsequently had this work carried out to the satisfaction of the inspector.
Mr. Derham told the court that this was correct. He said that he had previously had three other houses on Church Street taken down because they were in a dangerous condition, but that there was not the slightest suggestion of collapse at No. 66 and No. 67. Both Mrs. Ryan and Mr. Derham denied in court all rumours that Mrs. Ryan was in some way connected with Corporation officials.
As the inquest adjourned for one week, the public atttention shifted to the funerals of the victims of the Church Street tragedy. The bodies of the deceased were last night taken to St. Michan's Church on Halston Street, where the Office for the Dead was recited by the members of St. Michan's Confraternity.
This morning, masses at 8 o'clock and 10 o'clock were celebrated for the dead at the same Church and in the presence of large congregations. Afterwards, with the priests in tears, the remains were taken from the Church and transported in hearses through the streets of the city, the procession passing into St. Mary's Lane and Church Street. Blinds in all the adjoining houses were drawn as the procession passed along and the huge crowds gathered on the footways bared their heads. The crowds of mourners grew more dense as the cortege got closer to Glasnevin Cemetery and, for the final leg of the sad journey, the coffins were removed from the hearses and borne on men's shoulders. The scenes at the graveside were harrowing in the extreme. Mrs Salmon, standing beside the coffin of her deceased son, called out 'My darling boy!' and later attempted to throw herself into the open grave. Mrs Salmon was not alone in her inconsolable grief and many women and children collapsed in the hysteria of the moment.