Alfreda’s grandfather Francis O’Brien was a member of St. John’s Ambulance, and was involved in organising the rescue and remains identification operation immediately after the bombing. He was falsely accused of trying to signal to the Germans, when he set fire to gas mains to prevent an explosion. Alfreda also speaks about a priest who risked his own life to stay with dying man in the rubble, her grandfather’s job as the “glimmer man” for the gas company, and the family’s temporary move to Cabra. She also speaks of the terrified reaction of her Italian Grandparents who lived in Marino.
My father Francis O’Brien lived on Ossory Rd, the night of the 31st stayed with him always. His sister Marie ran to his room and pulled him and the bed upside down as the wall came in, saving his life! My grandfather Francis Senior had past war experience in the medical and went about helping those that were injured. He also collected as many remains for later identification. Francis Senior was an inspector in the Dublin Gas Co, and lit the main gas pipe to stop a further explosion and ran the risk of arrest! (They said he was signalling the Germans!) All my father’s family where involved in the St. John’s Ambulance and jumped to action. My dad acted as a runner for messages with other young boys. He told of the bravery of a local priest that went into a basement of a house where a man was impaled and stayed with him till he died and just before the house collapsed. The stories are many. Whole families lost. My father never thought he’d live to see a similar thing only to be caught up in the tragedy in Talbot Street years later.