A Facebuke Group has been set up for survivors of the local earthquakes of 1984 and 2013. We spoke to survivor Margery Halpins, who set up the Drawda Survivors of the 1984 & 2013 Earthquakes group this morning in response to a recent spate of earthquakes around the world.
“Earthquakes affect all of us that use the earth to walk on. Look at those poor people in New Zealand and all those old churches in Italy. But people seem to forget that we’ve suffered too. I think that gets lost. Is our experience less important because it happent before internet?”
The group aims to act as a safe place for traumatised survivors to share their stories. In 1984, just before 8am, the earth literally moved as an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter Scale rattled tea cups and knocked over an already awkward and gangly teenager in Termonfeckin.
Survivors Jack Hammer and Kango Boyle worked in Drogheda Corporation at the time.
“I was working for the Corporation at the time. It was back when they could ruin the town themselves without needing permission from Dundalk,” recalled Boyle, adding nothing more.
Hammer was more forthcoming. “I was fixin de buurst watur pipe on de North Quay thereor ah abouh 8.57am in 1984 when all of a sudden me kango hammor stoppen shakin buh evrathin else staahid shakin. Ih all bekem clear to me. De secrets of de cosmose flashen before me eye-is an for a splih secont I almost understood de meanin ah Navan. I’ve had nowhere to shayor me thoughts. Until now.”
The big quake of ’84 was the biggest thing to happen Drawda since Pope John Paul 2 snubbed the town in favour of a cow field in Kilineer. Strangely enough, the mild earthquake caused less damage to the town than the ‘pedestrianization’ of West Street when the whole street was ripped up and put back even uglier than before.
Then, with the disaster movie 2012 still fresh in the memories of townsfolk, 2013 hit.
It was just before 3am. Nobody heeded the warning signs – animals can sense these things. Cows started milking themselves and dogs were going spastic. It was a scenario aped by the population of Meath. Then it struck, a mighty 4.3 on the Richter Scale.
“It nearly woke me up and A’m a heavy sleeper so I am,” said one man. “But it didn’t. I heard about it on LMFM the next morning.”
In what could have been a confession from The Faa Side’s early love life, one bored woman recalled how “The bedroom was vibrating and things really took off before it was all over after six seconds.”
A mild tsunami hit Baltray soon after, though it could have just been a long wave.
Thankfully the two earthquakes didn’t kill anyone. Survivors are encouraged to join the Facebuke page and share their stories. Sharing is an important part of the healing process. Group administrator Halpins put things into perspective.
“If you add up the force of the two earthquakes they add up to 9.7 on the Richter Scale so they do. The one in Japan in 2011 was only a 9.0 and they had a tsunami and a nuclear disaster. That could’ve happent here in Drawda. It makes you think so it does.”