Personal Stories

Sister Martha O’Connor’s Story

When I was accepted into the Community of Daughters of Charity in 1941, I was asked to Postulate in St Vincent’s, North William Street, Dublin. I remember arriving there and being welcomed by all the Sisters. There were more than twenty Sisters in the Community at that time. I shared a bedroom with Sr Marie Walsh – a room next to the Children’s Dormitory.

One night, when Sr Marie and I had settled down to sleep, we suddenly heard a most desperate loud noise and a terrible bang. My bed began to rock and I began to tremble, as the shrieking and whistling sound continued. All the windows were shattered and broken. Both of us jumped out of our beds, the floor seemed to be moving or shaking under us. Glass, gravel, dirt and dust were blowing into the room on top of us. I thought the house was falling down. This was the night when the Bomb fell on the North Strand.

Sr Marie and I went straight to the Children’s Dormitory, as did all the other Sisters. The children were very frightened, shouting and crying with terror. We all helped to carry the children down the stairs to the basement, as the stairs was covered with broken glass and the loud whistling noise continued. All the Sisters seemed very active and energetic while I was trembling with fear. I was only a very short time in St Vincent’s, I wondered what was happening – in fact, I was really scared.

People then came running up the street to the Sisters’ House – and some were covered in blood. Their houses were bombed and were shattered or partly shattered to the ground. The Sisters did all they could for these people that night. For days and weeks afterwards, the Sisters provided meals for them until other provisions were made for these families.

Sometime later when I moved to the Seminary, St Teresa’s, Temple Hill, Blackrock, I related my terrible experience to the Sisters there and to my amazement, they had even heard “the big bang” that night in Blackrock. This was an experience I can never forget and even today when I think of my Postulancy, I immediately think of the bomb that fell on the North Strand, Dublin.

Editor’s Note: Sister Martha O’ Connor is now deceased. The above account was written by Sr. Martha O’ Connor in February 2007 to mark the 150th celebration of the foundation of St. Vincent’s North William Street. It is reproduced with the kind permission of Fr. Brian Lawless, St. Agatha’s Church, North William Street.

10 replies on “Sister Martha O’Connor’s Story”

just read Sister O’Connors account of the bombing, i was one of the orphans in the dormitory next to her room, also crying my head off, i confirm all she has stated, sorry to hear she has left us,R.I.P

Dear Carmel, Thank you for your comment. It must have been a terrifying experience for you as a young child. You are actually the first person from the orphanage who has made contact with us. We would be honoured to record your memories. Unfortunately the email address you supplied us with does not seem to work. Could you please contact us by phone at 01 674 4848: From Dublin City Archives

I was in St Vicent’s orphanage from 1951 to 1961 but I remember seeing the bombed area when we were children going for our Sunday Walk. Wonder what year Carmel left. I was known as Eileen Moran and my sister was Mary. I remember a Sr Martha Hegarty who loved beating some of us kids.

Hi Carmel l was in st vincents from 1951 to 1961. I remrmber Sr Martha Hegarty and she was not very kind.

Hi Madeline
I remember you in William St. You had a sister called Margaret who was my friend and I think u had an older sister called Cecily. I was there from 1951 TO 1961. Do you remember Mary and Eileen Moran. Hope life has been good to you. I remember your father used to visit you and Sr Martha loved Margaret.

Hi Helen, I just saw this now, in fact my husband found it first.
I do remember Mary Moran not sure about Eileen. Yes my sisters were Margaret and Cecily. You have a great memory. Yes Sr. Martha loved Margaret and didn’t let her join the big girls when she became of age. Yes Dad visited almost every Sunday.
Life has been very good to me. I have a wonderful husband, two lovely daughters and five gorgeous grandchildren.
Is your name Helen McCarthy. I knew a Helen and she went to become a Nun.
Great to hear from you.
X Madeleine

I was in the orphanage from 1948 to 1955 remember walking the bombed site every sunday. I remember helen and her two sisters lovely girls, i think helen was a friend of my sister Kathleen. Best memories are of choir and sr. Kevin r.i.p. hope you all had a good life

My mother (Mary Oman) was one of the orphans in the orphanage that night. i have read this story to her and she says that it is correct. After that night the children had to go to Mount Prospect for a week while the repairs were going on. She is 92 tomorrow 19/07/17 and still remembers her time in William Street.

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