Dublin whiskey fire

The Dublin whiskey fire took place on 18 June 1875 in the Liberties area of Dublin.[1] It lasted a single night but killed 13 people, and resulted in €6 million worth of damage in whiskey alone (adjusted for inflation).[2] People drank from the 6 inches (150 mm) deep river of whiskey that is said to have flowed as far as the Coombe.[3] None of the fatalities suffered during the fire were due to smoke inhalation, burns, or any other form of direct contact with the fire itself; all of them were attributed to alcohol poisoning.


The fire is believed to have started in Laurence Malone's bonded storehouse on the corner of Ardee Street,[4] where 5,000 hogsheads (262,500 imperial gallons or 1,193,000 litres or 315,200 US gallons) of whiskey were being stored to a value of £54,000 (equivalent to £5.45 million in 2019).[5] The exact cause of the fire is unknown, but it is known to have started between 4:35pm when the storehouse was checked, and 8:30pm when the alarm was raised. At 9:30pm the barrels within the storehouse began to explode with heat, sending a stream of whiskey flowing through the doors and windows of the burning building.[6]


The stream of whiskey first stretched down Cork Street, turning onto Ardee Street and catching a house on Chamber Street, then continued farther to Mill Street where it quickly demolished a row of small houses.[7]

Human reactionEdit

People living nearby were first alerted to the fire by the sounds of squealing pigs from nearby livestock pens that had caught fire, and this is said to have contributed to a surprisingly rapid evacuation that was later commended by members of the emergency services as well as the Lord Mayor of Dublin at the time, Peter Paul McSwiney. He is quoted as saying:

"The time given for escape in some places during the progress of the fire was so short, I was apprehensive that some people should be left in danger in the garrets and cellars of the district. But on inquiry I was happy to learn that no life was lost during the great conflagration."

During the evacuation many people gathered by the streams of whiskey, filling any vessel at hand with the substance. “Caps, porringers, and other vessels" were all gathered to lap up the burning liquid, resulting in 24 hospitalisations due to alcohol poisoning and 13 subsequent fatalities.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hopkins, Frank (June 2008). Hidden Dublin: Deadbeats, Dossers, and Decent Skins. Mercier Press Ltd. p. 189. ISBN 9781856355919. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  2. ^ rareAdmin (4 May 2017). "The Great Whiskey Fire of Dublin, 1875". Rare Irish Stuff. Archived from the original on 7 June 2020. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  3. ^ O'Brien, Joseph V. (1982). Dear, Dirty Dublin: A City In Distress. University of California Press. p. 34. ISBN 9780520039650. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  4. ^ Ruxton, Dean. "The night a river of whiskey ran through the streets of Dublin". Irish Times. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  5. ^ "THE GREAT FIRE IN DUBLIN". Irish Independent. 21 June 1875. Retrieved 25 October 2021. On Mr Malone's premises there was massed malt and wines to the value of £54,000
  6. ^ "THE GREAT FIRE IN DUBLIN". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 25 October 2021. The burning whiskey poured literally in torrents from the doors and windows of the burning pile
  7. ^ "THE GREAT FIRE IN DUBLIN". Irish Examiner. 21 June 1875. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  8. ^ Dean Ruxton (3 August 2016). "The night a river of whiskey ran through the streets of Dublin". The Irish Times. Retrieved 28 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

Coordinates: 53°20′17″N 6°16′44″W / 53.338°N 6.279°W / 53.338; -6.279