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Interview: ‘My husband died five years ago but nothing has changed’

Mary Murray, wife of one of the Bray fire men who lost their lives in a blaze five years ago says men who risk their lives are heroes.

Christina Finn

FIVE YEARS ON, the derelict building that Bray fire fighters, Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy lost their lives in still stands.

On September 26, 2007, fire fighters were dispatched to a fire at a disused factory at Adelaide Villas, off the Dargle Road in Bray. Father of 15, Brian Murray and 26-year-old Mark O’Shaughnessy died when the roof collapsed on them as they were fighting the blaze.

Yesterday, to mark the anniversary of the two men’s deaths a memorial service was held outside the shell of the building. The mood was a sombre one, as the Dublin Fire Brigade band played the bagpipes and a minute silence was held in honour of the two men.

The rain is pelting down, soaking all in attendance, but the fire fighters from both Wicklow and Dublin fire service hold their line ranks as Hazel O’Brien, partner of the late Mark O’Shaughnessy, speaks in front of a poignant memento: a photo of the two men and an image of two fire axes crossed.

She says to the crowd that she finds it very hard to stand in the front of the building knowing what happened there, adding that she often wonders what Mark would be like today. He would have turned 30 this year.

The tricolour flag that sits on top of the unused factory billows in the gusting wind as a wreath is placed at the door. A poem entitled The Final Call which was read at the first anniversary of the firemen’s death is read to the crowd, describing how a “dancing angel” took the hands of the men that day.

Mary Murray, wife of Brian Murray continues to campaign for an improved fire service. Both 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 and the discontinuation of  ’call vetting’.

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Speaking yesterday to TheJournal.ie, Mary Murray described the last five years:

It seems hard to believe that it has been five years since I lost my husband. Sometimes it seems much longer, others I feel like it was just yesterday. Standing on the site this morning, where it all happened five years ago, was extremely tough. I wasn’t sure what way I was going to feel. I just kept thinking of him and what he did that day.

Over the past five years our family has been through a lot. I have 15 kids and over a dozen grandchildren and they have all lost so much. We as a family are stuck – if that is the right word – we do try and get on with life, but it is hard not to get stuck back in that day five years ago. I have tried to be there for my family but the children find it hard, they miss their father of course.

Never forget

What is tough to take is that we don’t want them to be forgotten. It seems that when the anniversary comes around people pay attention to our plight and the issues at large, but then interest fades and it is forgotten. But we do not forget and we do not forget the great many men here at Bray Fire Station who still risk their lives for the sake of others. They still operate in this system – five years on and nothing has really changed. If we don’t protect our firemen they won’t be able to protect us.

Next year is going to be a very tough one for us. We will keep fighting for justice for our boys, we have to or who else will? As they say, the toughest battles have the sweetest victories, and that is all we can hope for. As a mother, I do worry for my family, of course. But I worry that after this long five years of struggling without my husband, struggling for justice – that when all is said and done, how will I move on? I am not sure we will ever move on from that day when the fire service called to my door to break the news.

Hero son

My son, another hero in the family, is serving over in the Lebanon at the moment where he is receiving his medal of honour. I am so proud of him. Today will be a tough day for him I know that. He would have loved to be here with his wife and son and also because it is the seventh anniversary on Saturday since his little girl died also. It is hard not to have him here, but he is doing an important job. I know he will be thinking of his Dad today.

Brian and Mark are champions etched into history and our fight for justice will not falter no matter how many obstacles we encounter. I know Brian is in good hands but I wish he was still in mine. All the firemen that were there on that day – I know they would have liked to be involved in a rescue operation that day but I know they did all that they could do under the circumstances.

I can’t thank the servicemen of Bray and Dublin fire service enough. They continue to support me and my family and I know Mark would be proud of them all. I am not a particularly religious person, but I like to think that Mark is with them each time they go out on a call, it may sound silly, but I believe he is.

Interview: ‘My husband died five years ago but nothing has changed’
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  • Bray Fire Men

    (Image via Christina Finn)Source: (Image via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    (Image via Christina Finn)Source: (Image via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    (Image via Christina Finn)Source: (Image via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    Fire fighters remember Brian Murray and Mark O'Shaughnessy. (Image via Christina Finn)Source: (Image via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    Mary Murray, wife of Brian Murray, speaks at the five year memorial service. (Image via Christina Finn)Source: (Image via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    Dublin Fire Brigade honour the two men who lost their lives five years ago. (Image via Christina Finn)Source: (Image via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    (Image via Christina Finn)Source: (Image via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    (Image via Christina Finn)Source: (Image via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    Flowers are left at the door of the unused building where the two men died. (Photo via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    A wreath and flowers are left in remembrance. (Photo via Christina Finn)
  • Bray Fire Men

    A photo of the two Bray firemen is tacked to the front door where they perished. (Photo via Christina Finn)

Wicklow County Council is to go on trial in May of next year in connection with the death of two firefighters in Bray. The council faces four charges under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. If found guilty of all four it faces a total fine of up to €12 million. The prosecution is being brought by the Health and Safety Authority. The trial is due to start on May 29, 2013.

Concerns raised over “vetting” of calls to fire service>

Wicklow County Council charged over fatal Bray fire>

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