The owner of the castle where hundreds partied at an illegal rave on St Stephen's night has told the Sunday World he feared a repeat of the Stardust tragedy.
ppalled Derek Iceton, who owns Skyrne Castle in Co Meath, said he scoured the large estate the next morning, fearing he would find bodies in ditches.
The Stardust tragedy in 1981 left 48 people dead after a blaze at a St Valentine's night disco.
He discovered two very scared young girls clinging to each other in the toilets after everyone left.
He said there was an appalling lack of leadership from the gardaí who turned up on the night and that the first garda he met told him the best thing he could do was "Go and hide."
And he criticised gardaí actions since the event saying, almost three weeks later, they have still not spoken to his farm manager, one of the main witnesses to what happened.
And we can reveal that top Dublin DJ Ryan Redmond was the man spinning the discs on the night.
Punters paid €70 per head to be ferried to the rave in a fleet of taxis, and the tickets cost €40 each.
Iceson also told how he and his staff have subsequently filled a 16-metre skip with items abandoned on the night, as revellers raced to the exit after he heroically confronted them.
Those included knifes, small and large cylinders of laughing gas which ravers inhaled for a short-term high.
A still shaken Derek said: "I have a tenant in the castle and he sub-let it for what was supposedly an Airbnb booking, he didn't know what it was really for, he wasn't there on the night and why would he be, he thought it was a legitimate booking.
"I believe the Garda Pulse report on the incident shows that 12 gardaí were tasked to the incident including an Inspector.
"On the night the first garda that spoke to me advised me to go and hide and from that moment I knew that myself and my wife, along with Ivan the farm manager, were on our own on dealing with this.
"Now this is a very old building, packed so full you wouldn't fit a single sardine more in there. With people smoking in there I was petrified the whole place would go up in flames.
"I hesitate to compare it to the Stardust as people lost loved ones there and I don't like to bring bad memories back to them but honestly that was the comparison that flashed across my mind, the thought that we could have another Stardust on our hands.
"I went in and bluffed them that the ERU were on their way and so were the drugs squad, and that saw them head for the exit and I managed to get them out.
"Four of the hardier lads were the last to leave and one of them tried to barge back in again but I blocked him. For a moment I thought there was going to be a fight but he walked away."
He said: "I then decided to check that everyone had left and was shocked to find two girls trembling with fear in the toilets and I took them to safety.
"When everyone has gone was the next time we saw a garda and it emerged that two gardaí were actually sent to the scene and the other ten were blocking more traffic from getting in at a crossroads a kilometre away.
"It would have made more sense if the bulk of them had been at the castle itself as the final entrance gate there was the only way anyone could get in.
"I will put it this strong, in my opinion there was a distinct lack of leadership among the gardaí on the night and definitely 100% they left us to do the job of stopping the gig and getting drunk and drugged people out, all by ourselves.
"I couldn't sleep that night, probably because the adrenaline was still pumping but also because I was worried what I might find when I woke up.
"So I got my dog and went round looking in the hedges and ditches to make sure there wasn't any bodies there.
"People might think that was an over reaction but trust me it wasn't, I knew everyone had left the building, some of them in a very bad way, what I didn't know until I did that check was had they all left the estate."
A Garda spokesperson said in a statement: "An Garda Síochána attended an incident in Skyrne, Co Meath on 26th December 2021.
"As this matter remains under investigation, no further comment can be made at this time."
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