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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# stardust podcast
'It was the biggest show on our side really': Episode one of Stardust out now
In episode one, we take a look at what Ireland – and Dublin – was like at the beginning of the 1980s.


“I got pushed back against a wall. At this stage the ceiling’s on fire. The noise of the fire. I remember standing there. I just looked and thought ‘I’m not going to get out that way’. I didn’t know where any of the other exits were. I just thought for a couple of seconds ‘okay, this is probably it’.” – Linda Bishop

STARDUST IS A new six-part weekly podcast from that delves in and tells the story of one of the most horrific tragedies in the history of the Irish state, with survivors, families, journalists, first responders and more sharing their experiences – some of them for the first time.

The podcast looks at what happens when a community doesn’t get closure after a huge trauma – and how the Irish State got it so wrong in dealing with the tragedy.

In episode one, we take a look at what Ireland – and Dublin – was like at the beginning of the 1980s.

We talk to some of those who grew up in the area where the Stardust was the number one attraction every Friday and Saturday (“and Sunday if you still had any money”) night. We hear about how the Artane nightclub attracted people from all around for a bit of fun and why Friday 13 February 1981 was set to be a particularly big night.

stardust-disasters-circus-posters Eamonn Farrell / A photo taken on the morning after the disaster. Eamonn Farrell / /

In working class areas such as Artane and Coolock, the unemployment rate was far higher particularly for young people. Haughey’s Ireland was living “way beyond our means”, and unemployment and was beginning to bite hard.

Over 100,000 people were unemployed at the beginning of 1981, with the unemployment rate over 10%.

But there was a vibrancy in youth culture that wasn’t mirrored in the grim economic and social realities of Ireland at the time.

A lot of teenagers and those in their early 20s wanted to do a bit of work and then enjoy the weekend out with their friends.

The Stardust was the place where many of them found that outlet.

Bands like The Specials played there to audiences of well over one thousand young people; disco dancing competitions were held frequently; and people from all over would come every week to catch up with the friends they’d grown up with.

We speak to veteran radio DJ Declan Meehan, who lends his engaging voice to discuss what it was like to cater for the musical tastes of young people at the start of 1980s and why these disco dances and venues captured the imagination.

You can listen to the podcast below, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Stardust / SoundCloud

Search for Stardust or on your favourite podcast app. Can’t find it? Email

Stardust is presented by Sean Murray, produced by Nicky Ryan with executive producer Christine Bohan. Image in cover art by PA Images.

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