• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Irishman seeks to honour Swedish victims of deadly 1972 Greece fire

Oliver Gee · 20 Feb 2014, 16:25

Published: 20 Feb 2014 16:25 GMT+01:00

 
In late September, 1972, the Oscar restaurant on the Greek island of Rhodes burned to the ground. A faulty electrical system and highly flammable bamboo walls meant the building was torched within minutes.
 
Among the 33 dead patrons were over 20 Scandinavian tourists from Sweden and Denmark. Together with three Greeks and two other Irish tourists, 36-year-old Irish woman Theresa O'Shaughnessy also perished. 
 
Over 40 years on, O'Shaughnessy's relatives made a recent trip from Limerick to Rhodes to pay their respects, but were astonished to find that there was no memorial at the scene of the fire.
 
"We were shocked and saddened to see there was no memorial to all of these victims," O'Shaughnessy's 45-year-old nephew Pádraig Power told The Local. "This was a tragedy on massive proportion and there should be some mark of respect to these victims."
 
Power is now on the hunt for relatives of the Swedes and the Danes who perished in the blaze to get their blessing and support in making a memorial - even if it's just a plaque on the wall of the jewellers that now stands in the place of the restaurant.
 
But, despite the backing of Ireland's Foreign Ministry, the search is going slowly. Power has had no luck finding a single relative of the deceased Swedes. The Local's efforts to get help from the Sweden's Foreign Ministry also proved fruitless. 
 
"Even if I could find the information, I can't share it," a spokesman said.
 
Power is now taking it upon himself to get the ball rolling and to jog the Swedish public's memory. And what's more, he doesn't have much time. 
 
"This is really important to me personally because my mother is 84 and we've been speaking about it recently. If my mother passes on..." he said before drifting off into silence. 
 
"It's been over 41 years, but it's still a sensitive subject. My grandfather died a few years after the incident of a broken heart. My aunt was the youngest in the family. We hope to have a memorial erected while my mother and her siblings are still with us," he explained. 
 
Power's aunt was so badly burnt in the fire that she was unidentifiable, even through dental records.
 
"To be honest with you, we don't even know if her body came back. It was more of a process of elimination with the help of a woman from Dublin who had been with them that night. She managed to jump out the window and escape with only broken bones."
 
Story continues below…
Now, Power can only wait and see if the Swedes will answer the call to help. 
 
"If any of the Swedish families feel the same same sense of loss as we do, we'd love for them to come forward to help the cause," he said.
 
The Irish Foreign Ministry has already sent a letter to the mayor of Rhodes, while Power and his family hope the Swedes and the Swedish government proves to feel as passionately about the matter. 
 
"I personally would feel that it would be a failure in our quest if everybody didn't get a mention in the memorial," he told The Local. "This is still emotional, even though it's been such a long time. We want them remembered, that's all."
 

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Coeliac disease not caused by early weaning: Swedish study
Carin Andrén Aronsson now plans to investigate why Sweden has such high levels of coeliac disease. Photo: Polarbrod

Mothers who stop breastfeeding early are not to blame for their children developing gluten intolerance, a new Swedish study has found.

Zlatan look-a-like storms pitch as Man U take on champions
A grinning Zlatan pushed the man away with the palm of his hand. Photo: YouTube

Zlatan fever has hit the UK, with a look-a-like storming the pitch on Saturday only to be palmed off by the grinning Swedish football star.

Russian Sweden Democrat aide resigns over suspect deal
'Egor Putilov' had access to all areas of the Swedish parliament: Photo: Riksdag

A Russian-born political secretary for the Sweden Democrats has resigned after making six million kronor ($0.7m) in a property deal with a St Petersburg businessman.

Trump an 'embarrassment' Springsteen tells Sweden
Bruce Springsteen tells SVT talk show host that Trump is an 'embarrassment' to the US. Photo: SVT/Youtube

Rock legend Bruce Springsteen has described Donald Trump as an embarrassment to the United States, in an interview on Sweden's Skavlan talk show.

'World class' developer told to leave Sweden over admin slip
Software developer Tayyab Shabab. Photo: Private

Tayyab Shabab has a house, a job and pays tax in Sweden, but he has now been told he must leave within three weeks.

Police release men held over bomb threat on refugee home
Police officers outside the building. Photo: Robert Nyholm/TT

UPDATED: Two men arrested after a bomb threat was made against a home for refugees in Boden, northern Sweden, have been allowed to leave custody.

Embassy: No-go zones 'do not exist in Sweden'
Police on the Serbian-Hungarian border. Photo: Sofia Eriksson/TT

Sweden's embassy in Budapest has sharply rebuked Hungary after an official leaflet claimed that Stockholm and other European cities had become "no-go areas".

The Local List
Ten reasons why it's awesome being knocked up in Sweden
Being pregnant in Sweden can be pretty great. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

US writer Lisa Ferland shares her top reasons why she thinks Sweden is wonderful for expecting mums.

The Local Recipe
Welcome in the autumn with this Swedish tiger cake
Tiger cake and coffee, the perfect combination. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Fika: the best part of the day. Make this tiger cake and you'll keep everyone very happy.

Four arrested over Gothenburg riots
File photo of a Swedish police officer. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Four people have been arrested in connection with riots in a Gothenburg suburb this week.

Sponsored Article
Let's Talk: a personal Swedish language tutor in your pocket
National
Muslim teacher leaves job after not shaking male colleague's hand
Sponsored Article
‘I view the world in a different way now’
Travel
Why we adore autumn in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 21st
Blog updates

7 September

Svensk or svenska? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! My inbox is full of questions :-). Here’s one about when to use “svensk” and…" READ »

 

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'Creating a sense of home': Collective living in Stockholm
National
Stockholmers hunt killer badger after attack on neighbourhood hipster cat
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
National
Six key points in Sweden's budget plan
The Local Voices
How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Gallery
Property of the week: Luleå
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
People-watching: September 16th-18th
Culture
Why Swedish TV has given these kids' trucks a sex swap
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
People-watching: September 14th
Politics
Why Sweden is putting troops on holiday dream island Gotland
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
The Local Voices
'What I mean when I say: I came here to blow myself up'
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Society
VIDEO: Are Swedes that unfriendly?
Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden’s ’a-kassa’
Features
INTERVIEW: How Arthur the jungle dog opened hearts and minds
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen, Västra Götaland
Society
Sweden's ancient forest tongue Elfdalian fights for survival
National
Where Sweden's foreigners are from
Gallery
People-watching: September 9th-11th
The Local Voices
Shakib, 23, works and pays taxes — but will Sweden let him stay?
National
Watch this Swede roll his kayak without spilling his beer. Respect.
Gallery
People-watching: September 7th
The Local Voices
'Swedes are polarized on refugees - it's the welcome mat or the exit door'
National
WATCH: Yes, this Swedish rising star really is Abba legend's grandson
The Local Voices
'Whenever I apply for jobs I’m treated like an unwanted stranger'
The Local Voices
Is Swedish bosses' ignorance keeping refugees out of jobs?
2,966
jobs available