Looking back... Doctor warns meeting about dangers of hanging mirrors above fireplace

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The Ulster custom of hanging a mirror over the fireplace in a sitting room was a dangerous practice which could result in death, according to a leading doctor in 1959.

Dr J.H MacLaughlin, divisional medical officer of health for County Antrim, told a meeting of Newtownabbey Road Safety Committee that the practice has resulted in serious injury or death.

He reported that all of the 30 women he had spoken to had a mirror above the fireplace in their homes.

The doctor said: “A young girl is always looking at herself when a mirror is available.

“When she is doing so, it is highly probable that her flimsy dress will go on fire.”

However, he acknowledged that diseases such as polio, TB and whooping cough were more prevalent that accidents in the home.

He said that common sense was all a mother needed to make the home safer for her children.

Dr MacLaughlin went on to give the meeting a few safety tips, advising against trailing electrical wires and he suggested that “rickety” furniture should be repaired.

He emphasised the need for fire guards and also warned against storing bleach in drinks bottles.