“Our Dublin of today is very much a product of past experiences and a sharing of our history is very important to Dublin today.”
Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Eibhlin Byrne.
On the night of 30-31 May 1941 four high explosive bombs were dropped by German aircraft on the North Strand, killing 28, injuring over 90, and destroying 300 houses.
Were you an eyewitness to these events? Or perhaps you have stories or anecdotes, which have been passed on to you by older friends or relatives? Your memories are history. Dublin City Archives wishes to collect and preserve them for future generations of Dubliners. Add your experiences to the history of the North Strand Bombing by submitting your story using the submission form below or alternatively by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My Name is Thomas Heffernan. I was born at 60 Railway Street in November 1933. In April 1940 my father died and shortly after my mother, 2 sisters and brother moved to 63 Summerhill facing Quinn’s Pork Shop. When the bomb hit the houses at the corner of North Circular Road opposite Duggan’s Chemist, the whole house shook and glass crashed. Everyone started to scream and cry, roaring and shouting and someone shouting “put out the lights, get out of the house, its going to fall”. I was crying and wanted my communion suit. My grandparents lived in St. Joseph’s mansion and whilst we where going down Buckingham Street to take shelter in their house, the glass was still falling out of the windows in Buckingham Street. We had to walk down the middle of the Street, my Uncle Tommy appeared and helped my mother with the children to safety. There was more screaming when someone shouted Alborough House was bombed – St. Joseph Mansions was know then as Alborough House. My mother was really upset because that is where her parents lived. We now know that in actual fact it was the North Strand. That morning May 31st 1941 I made my Holy Communion at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Gloucester Street. I remember meeting loads of people that day, one lady in particular Mrs. Rice gave me a half crown which was a lot of money then and she said “God Bless yez only for yez we would have been all bombed”. Hector Grey started his business on the North Strand bomb site.
I was just 2 and half at the time of the bombing of the North Strand and we lived at 4 Charlemont Parade. I remember my mother telling me I was asleep in my cot at the time of the bombing. There was a large wardrobe beside my cot which fell across the cot but only for the rail on the cot I would more than likely not be writing this now. The roof had been blown off the house and she told me she shouted up to my older brother who was sleeping in a small upstairs bedroom “what was that bang” and he replied “I don,t know? but I can see the stars”. So that is about as much as I can remember of my Mother telling me of the bombing of the North Strand.
Dermot Moran (d.2003) was living in Drumcondra the nights the bomb fell. He wrote the following letter on 1 – 2 June 1941 to his parents in Kerry in which he vividly described the sights and sounds that he heard from the bedroom window on the 30/31 May 1941. The letter was kindly donated to Dublin City Archives by the Moran Family.
Transcript of Original Letter Page 1
58, Upper Drumcondra Road,
2nd/1st June 1941,
I got your letter and was right glad to hear from ye and to learn all the news. We’ve been having pretty good weather here during the past week though last Sunday was not so very good. As a matter of fact it started pouring, and it was 8 o’clock in the evening before it cleared up. The new church at Drumcondra – Corpus Christi was consecrated that day and & ’tis many the person that got the bad drenching at it. Yesterday, on the other hand, was a really glorious day. In fact ’twas the nearest approach to Summer we’ve had yet. Read the rest of this entry »
At the time of the bombing I was 6 years old and lived with my parents in Leinster Avenue. I was asleep with my brothers in the back bedroom, when I was woken by my family talking to each other. My father was looking out of the window which looked out towards Amiens St. We could see searchlights and then the flash and bang of guns firing. We heard the engine noise of aircraft and then a bright flash, a moment of silence and then a massive bang. The house shook and the windows rattled. The next day we tried to see the damage but we were turned away. After a couple of days we managed to get as far as the bridge over the canal. There was a crowd there and I remember a bicycle with a box at the front selling ice cream. There was a big hole in the road halfway up the hill towards the bridge. All the shops and houses were just rubble with a strong smell of smoke and dust. I hoped we would have time off school which was next to the Ivy Church, but things were soon back to normal. Does anyone know why we were bombed? I remember people saying that the railway line to Belfast or the docks was the target due to food aid being sent to the UK. The left hand side of the area leading towards the 5 ways was built on. The other side remained an empty site into the 1950s. After the bombing there was a lot of rumours and I remember the Army drilling holes in the supports for explosives to be put in the Railway Bridge over the River Tolka and carrying out manoeuvres in Fairview Park which to us kids was exciting.
Maeve Mooney was 11 at the time of the bombing, and living in Glasnevin with her parents. Her Uncle Dick (Richard) Fitzpatrick, her Aunt Ellen and her two cousins Margaret (Madge) and Noel lived over the family butcher shop at 23 North Strand Road and were all tragically killed on the 31 May 1941. Maeve recalls the memories of the night, and stories her father later shared with her of searching for the Fitzpatrick family in Dublin’s hospitals and morgues. She also addresses various rumours about the deaths of the Fitzpatrick family which circulated in Dublin in the aftermath, and tells the eerie story of her Uncle Dick’s prize pigeons which were seen in the North Stand the morning after the bombing.