It’s strange how the mind works and the associations made in a creative burst. I was doing my weekly shopping in an organic market in The Liberties on a square called Newmarket where a new distillery was being constructed. The previous evening I had sampled a new drink called ‘Flaming Pig’ which celebrated the Dublin whiskey fire of 1875. So there I was in an organic market, beside a whiskey distillery, in the Liberties, the fire of 1875 and Chief Fire Officer Ingram’s ‘organic’ solution, sprang to mind. So I bought a coffee and a croissant, took out a pen and paper, sat down and wrote this poem.
I wrote this poem last year, related to a fire that happened in the narrow streets of The Liberties, Dublin, my own neighbourhood and the oldest part of this ancient city. The fire was caused by an explosion in a malt house that caused a blaze when it spread to the casks of whiskey stored there. This soon spread to the building next door, a bonded warehouse, where more barrels of whiskey and raw spirit were stored.
The fire soon spread through the heavily populated, narrow streets. The Dublin fire brigade tried to put the fire out with water but this only caused it to spread as the flaming whiskey was carried along by the water, through the narrow laneways. A disaster was averted when the chief fire officer, an Irishman, James Robert Ingram, who was first trained in the fledgling New York Fire Department (NYFD) dispatched men and carts to the local city depots where they gathered cartloads of horse manure. He instructed his men to shovel the horse manure onto the flaming whiskey, halting its advance and preventing a major disaster. There were four fatalities and a number of people suffered injuries but neither the fatalities nor the injuries were caused by fire but by the ingestion of the flaming whiskey.