Day Bray will never forget
AS THE melody of the hymn ‘A Íosa’ hung sombrely in the air at the Holy Redeemer Church on Bray’s Main Street last Saturday morning, the congregation reflected on the sad day a year ago when a fire in an unused warehouse claimed the lives of heroic fire fighters Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy.
‘One year on and nothing has changed,’ said a source in the fire service, who helplessly watched as his two friends perished so suddenly and unexpectedly on September 26 2007. ‘The system hasn’t improved.’
The firefighter said that the investigation is at a very sensitive stage and that he and his colleagues are all waiting for a conclusion and for changes to be made on foot of its findings.
Since the tragedy, the families of the two men have been campaigning for a number of changes to the service procedures, including the introduction of a full-time fire service, thorough investigations of the circumstances that led to what unfolded that morning, and an examination of alleged ‘callvetting’ which they claim was a practice which delayed brigade response times.
The people of a town shocked by grief came out in huge numbers to march down the Main Street last October, demanding a full-time fire service for Bray.
On Saturday morning, beneath framed photographs of Brian and Mark placed on the altar, alongside a pair of helmets left idle for twelve months, the relatives, friends and colleagues of the two men remembered fondly the people they had lost. ‘We have lost an awful lot,’ said one member of the Bray service.
‘Every day you remember it. You don’t need an anniversary or a particular date to recall that terrible day. We think about Mark and Brian all the time,’ he said. ‘We still miss them...their loss is a horrific blow. There are some who still wonder whenever the beeper goes off...is this it?’
A plaque was unveiled in Bray Fire Station on Friday morning, after a moment of silence at 10.43 a.m., the time when the call to the fire was received at the station.
The ceremony was organised by the Bray fire fighters and attended by members of the Wicklow Fire service, past and present.
Those present at Mass on Saturday remembered Mark, (26), who was known as a kind, quiet and caring young man who
would help anyone in need. His mother Marie, sister Niamh, brother Eamonn, girlfriend Hazel and nephew Eoin recall a man who took pride in everything he did and made friends easily in every situation.
Brian, (46), who’s infectious smile is now etched in to the collective memories of the people of Bray, was a hard-working, popular man who loved being a part of the fire service. Those who knew him said time and time again that with his calm and caring personality, the father of 15 was born to be a fire fighter.
‘I am sure life is still very difficult for Brian and Mark’s family, friends and colleagues,’ said Fr. George Begley at the Mass. ‘The sense of loneliness is not easy to cope with.’ He spoke of the importance of the continued support of loved ones ‘who call and share their stories and memories.’
The ceremony on Saturday morning brought to a close the memorial tributes that had taken place since Friday, when the families re-visited the scene of the fire at Adelaide Villas to mark its anniversary.
A few dozen people gathered quietly on Friday morning to pay their respects. Brian’s brotherin-law Jack O’Neill moved the people to tears as he read out a poem by Jacky Kelleher, Brian Jnr’s girlfriend. ‘In the midst of all the chaos I looked up at the flames, I saw a dancing angel and she softly called my name. I reached up to the Dancing Angel, took her by the hand, And quietly with not a word she led me from this land,’ read the poem.
As well as seven grandchildren, The Murray children at the scene included Kian (2), Ryan (7), Aisling (9), Aoife (11), David (14), Eoin (15), Sinead (16), Sean (18), Fiona (19), Joanne (20), Barry (23), Caroline (24), Darren (26) and Brian (28).
‘It’s very hard and it’s not getting any easier,’ said Brian’s daughter Joanne. ‘We just hope that something will come out of this eventually.’
Terry O’Neill, another of Brian’s brothers-in-law, who’s parents live next door to the factory, said last Friday that he had spoken to Brian mere moments before his death.
‘I saw Brian getting ready to enter the factory,’ said Terry. ‘I called out jokingly to him “At last I catch you working.” Brian just gave me that grin of his...and didn’t answer.
Brian’s sons David and Eoghan Murray carry his portrait and helmet.
Ryan, Fiona and Aisling Murray.
David Murray with Brian’s grandchild Abbie.
Brian Murray’s grandson Jordan and son Brian.