Programme maker Lisa-Marie Berry introduces this week's RTÉ Documentary On One production - listen above to 'Minding Mary - Has Ireland forgotten Carrickmines?'.

On Saturday, 10 October 2015 a blaze swept through a halting site at Carrickmines in south County Dublin. This was the country's deadliest disaster since the Stardust fire.

An aerial view of the site of the fire (Pic: Sunday Independent)

Members of the three families who lost everything on that fateful night, namely the Lynch family, the Gilbert family and the Connors family share their story with the RTÉ Documentary On One team for the first time since the Carrickmines fire tragedy.

(Left) Tara, Willie, Jodie & Kelsey.
(Middle Top) Jimmy, baby Mary.
(Middle Bottom) Christy and Jim.
(Right) Silvia and Thomas

Seven years on, I met with Ben Lynch to record his personal testimony. Ben was related to everyone who died in the fire. He lost his two brothers Jimmy (39) and Willie (25), his sister Sylvia (30) and his nephews Jim (5) and Christy (3).

His brother-in-law Thomas Connors (27), his sister-in-law to be Tara Gilbert (27) and her unborn child, and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and 5-month old baby Mary also died in the horrific fire.

"When we lost our family in that fire, you might as well say we lost a whole lot of us. People don't understand that we didn't just lose all of them. We lost ourselves as well. We find it hard to get up in the morning to live with ourselves." – Ben Lynch

Harry Gilbert also spoke to me about the events of that night and the aftermath. Harry was a single father to his twin daughters Tara and Amanda. Tara and her unborn grandchild died in the Carrickmines fire along with her partner Willie and their daughters, Harry’s granddaughters, Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4).

"It's a type of a thing I wouldn't wish on anyone in the world. A terrible, terrible thing to happen the whole lot wiped out you know, no warning no nothing." – Harry Gilbert

Following the tragedy, Harry’s daughter Amanda died by suicide in 2018. Amanda was Tara’s twin sister.

"They were, actually, identical twins. Amanda used to say that, every time she looked in the mirror, she saw her late sister looking back at her."

Kathleen Connors brother Thomas, his wife Sylvia and her nephews Jim (5) Christy (3) and 5 month-old niece, baby Mary, all died.

Kathleen describes the moment she spotted the fire and how she tried desperately to save her family on that fateful night. Kathleen also describes her living conditions seven years later.

"We are living in a half a house." - Kathleen Connors

The surviving family members of the Carrickmines Tragedy don’t talk about ten members of their families having died in the fire - they say eleven died, the eleventh family member being Tara Gilbert’s unborn child.

Ray Martin, Dublin Fire Brigade

The fire officer on the scene that night Ray Martin shares his memories of that the night including his efforts to rescue five month old baby Mary from the fire.

"I remember a lady being there saying the baby was there definitely in there." - Ray Martin

Seven years after the Carrickmines tragedy, the RTÉ Documentary On One team asks if the state has implemented sufficient and systemic actions to improve living conditions for members of the travelling community in Ireland. At a conference on Irish Travellers a few weeks ago, the word 'Carrickmines’ was mentioned many times.

Unfortunately, it seems that 'Carrickmines' has become a by-word for the lack of progress in the area of traveller accommodation.

The funeral cortege for the victims of the fire

Some of the conference speakers recommended that the job for housing Travellers be taken from the local councils and given to a national authority.

The Department of Housing and Local government told us that back in 2018, an expert review group recommended that the Government set up a National Traveller Accommodation Authority.

Queueing to sign the book of condolences at The Mansion House, Dublin

The Department of Housing and Local government also told Documentary On One that now, in 2022, four years later, the government is currently considering setting up a National Traveller Accommodation Authority.

Documentary On One: Minding Mary - Has Ireland forgotten Carrickmines?, RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday 22nd October at 2pm - listen back to more from Documentary On One here.