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‘Stardust orphan’ writes book about her loss, forty years after inferno
Infant Lisa Lawlor lost both parents in 1981 nightclub blaze

26 Jan 2021 / Ireland Print

‘Stardust orphan’ writes on her ongoing loss after blaze

A young woman who lost both her parents in the Stardust inferno nearly 40 years ago has written a book about her ongoing loss.

The book is published as new inquests into the 48 deaths at the nightclub, including those of Lisa's parents Maureen and Francis Lawlor, begin later this year.

Lisa Lawlor was just 17 months old when she was orphaned by the horror blaze in Dublin’s Coolock, on 13 February 1981.

Her young married parents, Maureen and Francis, both perished in the blaze.

Cherished 

The couple had gone to the Stardust to celebrate St Valentine’s Day, leaving their cherished baby daughter in the care of a babysitter at their Finglas, Dublin home.

The decision to go out dancing was a last-minute one – Lisa’s dad persuaded her mother saying “come on love, we’re not old yet”.

Now, as the 40th anniversary looms of the blaze that devastated the northside community, Lisa has written a book entitled Stardust Baby.

New inquests

Relatives and survivors have expressed dissatisfaction with previous probes into the cause of the inferno.

A 2009 inquiry ruled out arson, which was initially ascribed as the cause of the blaze.

In September 2019, a fresh inquest was announced, a move welcomed by grieving families, who have campaigned for justice for four decades.

Flames

The loss of both her parents in the inferno has haunted Lisa, and especially the knowledge that her father Francis (25) ran back into the flames to try to find his wife Maureen, (23). 

Neither of them survived the blaze.

Lisa is now 41, and a mother of three.

Her book Stardust Baby details the anguish of growing up without her doting parents – the mother she so strongly resembles and the father who died a hero, trying to find his wife in the blaze.

She told The Sun Online, “I wonder about their last moments – what were they saying, what were they doing?

"They had a baby at home, so they must have nearly gone berserk.”

Conflicted

“I’m conflicted completely about him going back in," Lisa tells The Sun.

"Sometimes, when I’m low, crying and missing them, I say, ‘why did you not wait for me?’ And then other days, I say ‘you’re a hero’.

"I’m caught in between two spots – but I’m so proud of him.

"He’s a hero, there’s no doubt in my mind.”

Lisa knows she was everything to her parents.

“I miss them terribly – I’m broken-hearted.

"But I’m more sad for them. They didn’t get to know me.”

“I was left with nothing – the clothes I was in when I was a baby," she says.

Orphaned Lisa was initially taken in by her mother’s parents, Elizabeth and Paddy.

Broken-hearted

But her beloved grandmother died of a heart attack just weeks later, broken-hearted with grief, at the age of just 54.

Soon after that, Lisa was taken in by her dad's parents, Lally and Robin, who also had five children still living at home.

But the young Lisa was anguished by her grievous loss.

“I remember there always being some sort of chaos around me," she says.

"There was never peace in my heart, even when I was small," says Lisa.

Stardust Baby is published by Mirror Books on 28 January.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland