Sean Byrne’s Story

October 13, 2009

I was twelve years old at the time and lived on Ballybough Road with my Mother and Father. My Father John Byrne was with the Army Corps of Engineers at the time and as he was involved in the maintenance of the ant-aircraft and searchlight installations at the time he was called out when the situation arose. So we had early warning if you like as the German bomber flew around over the city. Warning flares were fired to indicate the Bomber was over neutral territory but these were ignored.

Searchlights scoured the sky and the anti-craft guns opened up. To no avail. The plane took a line down the North Circular Road, dropped a small bomb near O’Connell’s School and Summerhill and then realised a high explosive on the North Strand near Newcomen Bridge where there was the Royal Canal and Railway lines. All lights were out and the ARP men warned people to stay indoors as shell fragments fell to the ground.

We weren’t sure where the bombs fell, but the next morning I found out. We were below the level of the bombsite and while some damage was caused it was minimal. Some of the ceiling fell on my bed and two windows broke. A few slates slipped as well. I was an altar boy at the time and went to serve mass the following morning at 7am. With a priest I was allowed through the cordon. In St. Agatha’s Church, North William Street, we found the sacristan sweeping pieces of stained glass in the sanctuary – beautiful windows destroyed.

The Church building withstood the blast. I saw some of the damage, I couldn’t believe it. Fellow altar servers lived nearby were okay and I was relieved. Only later I realised the horror of the whole tragedy.