St. Joseph's club steps up to plate as family struggle to find post-funeral venue
St Joseph's Club in Bishopswater stepped up to the plate after members of the Connors family, mourning their dead from the Carrickmines fire, were unable to find any hotel, or commercial establishment willing to provide them with refreshments following Friday's burials at Crosstown.
Cllr George Lawlor said he was asked to help by gardai and left the funeral service at Bride Street Church half way through the ceremony to make some calls.
He too was unable to find any commercial establishment, either within the town or outside, including those which would normally accommodate Traveller funerals, willing or able to help.
St. Joseph's Club at Bishopswater came to the rescue and five minutes after being asked, agreed to host the function attended by around 50 people, with Cllr Lawlor calling in favours from friends to help out.
Despite rants on social media, some saying the town was 'closed,' Wexford in fact remained open for business on Thursday and Friday, with only a handful of shops closing because of fears of unruly behaviour surrounding the funeral of five of the young victims of the fire tragedy. In the event there was no trouble.
'It was business as usual for the vast bulk of commercial premises,' said Cllr Lawlor, rounding on criticism, much of it on social media, that the town was closed for business during the build-up to the funeral.
Most town centre pubs and some restaurants closed on Thursday night, with those that remained open, as well as local hotels, taking on extra security staff. Hotel car parks were closely guarded as were private car parks in the town centre.
Some licensed premises claimed they were closed 'due to private functions'.
Gardai made no recommendations to close any Wexford businesses and left it to the owners themselves to make such decisions.
Commenting on the pub closures, Minister Brendan Howlin told reporters: 'I understand some public houses closing. I think maybe the unavailability of alcohol is not a bad thing.'
Former Wexford councillor Joe Ryan says in his blog that publicans will point to their legal responsibility to ensure that their premises is run in an orderly fashion.
'Nobody disputes that. There is a requirement to make a judgement call. Instead many made an assumption.
'From what I saw today, those that shut their premises made the wrong call. There was no trouble last night in the pubs that stayed open. The burials took place in a dignified and fitting way as they should.
'Honouring the lives of the dead is at the heart of mourning. Let people bury their dead. Let's not just sympathise with the deceased, but also apologise for how some local businesses have behaved.'