Previously on the blog, we’ve looked at the 1875 Dublin whiskey fire. It was as chaotic a day as any day you can magine. A fire in a bonded warehouse created a scene where burning whiskey flowed like lava through the streets of the historic Liberties, destroying much in its path. Those who poured water on it in the hope of stopping the spread of the flames merely made a bad situation worse, and it took an innovative Dubliner, Fire Chief James Robert Ingram, to stop the madness. You’ll have to read the article linked above for that story.
To give a taste of it all though, the Illustrated London Times noted that:
Crowds of people assembled, and took off their hats and boots to collect the whiskey, which ran in streams along the streets. Four persons have died in the hospital from the effects of drinking the whiskey, which was burning hot as it flowed. Two corn-porters, named Healy and M’Nulty, were found in a lane off Cork-street, lying insensible, with their boots off, which they had evidently used to collect the liquor. There are many other persons in the hospital who are suffering from the same cause. Two boys are reported to be dying, and it is feared that other deaths will follow.
I was delighted recently to come across this series of contemporary illustrations, which capture the bizarre nature of the day perfectly. Animals ran throughout the Liberties, but the illustration I particularly like is the one that shows Dubliners drinking the whiskey from their boots!