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.