Personal Stories

Roche Family Story

Maura Clarke (née Roche), Brendan Roche and Vincent Roche
Maura Clarke (née Roche), Brendan Roche and Vincent Roche

Maura Clarke, Brendan Roche, and Vincent Roche are three siblings, whose father ran a barber’s shop on the North Strand Road in 1941. The shop was completely destroyed on the night of the bombing, and it was nine months before Mr Roche was to re-open a new premise in Kimmage, after receiving a small sum of compensation. Brendan and Vincent discuss their memories of visiting the North Strand area in the aftermath of the bombing, and salvaging shop furniture from the ruins.

Listen to the Roche Family story here:

Duration: 47:20 mins


Project Name: North Strand Oral History Project Phase 2

Track Number: 4

Name of the Interviewees: Maura Clarke (née Roche) (MC), Brendan Roche (BR) and Vincent Roche (VR)

Name of Interviewer: Marc Redmond

Place of Interview: The Lab, Foley Street, Dublin 1

Date of Interview: 31 July 2012

Name of Transcriber:

Reviewed: Ellen Murphy 16/11/2013

Length of Track: 47.20

MR: This interview is taking place on the 31 July 2012 in the Lab on Foley Street.  Present are Maura Clarke (née Roche), Brendan Roche, and Vincent Roche.  Folks, you’re all very welcome, thanks very much for coming down today.  Maura, can I ask you your date of birth and what age you were in 1941?

MC: OK, my date of birth is [19]43, May ’43, so I wasn’t born in 1941, and

MR: And yourself Brendan?

BR: The 11 June, 11/6/1928, the birth

MC: 1928

BR: 1928, Yes

MR: And yourself Vincent.

VR: 23/11/32.

MR: ’32. So youse were kind of young teenagers or up to ten or…

BR: The eleventh, you see, well we, I, we left the North Strand in 1934

MR: Right

BR: To live in Kimmage

MR: And you still had the, the family had the business, you were in the barber, or the hairdressing business

BR: My father, yes my grandfather, it was my grandfather’s shop

MR: Yes

BR:  And he died in ’37.

MR:  And that was on number 34 North Strand Road

BR: Yes

MR: That’s up near Newcomen Bridge

BR: Just beside, yes two doors down from Newcomen Bridge

VR: But he lived further down, didn’t he?

BR: He lived in 54.

VR: Yes, in 54, he lived in 54

BR: That’s my grandfather lived in 54 North Strand Road.  But my, my father moved. We lived, from the time my mother and father were married in 1927, to 1934, we lived, there were two, I’m not too sure (laughs), but we lived under the shop, the basement, there was a basement and we lived there, that Vincent would have been that time, and I was definitely

VR: I would have been only a child

MC: Both of, both of you were born there

BR: You were two, and I was six

VR: I was born on Leinster Road

MC: Yes, but you know what I mean, you lived there after you were born

VR: I lived there

BR: I was six when we left…

VR:  Yes

BR: North Strand to go to Kimmage, and Vincent would have been two, we were the only two in the family that would have been, that lived there

MR:  Yes, I understand

BR: That we lived under, downstairs

MR:  And did you ever go to school in the general area around there

BR: No, see I didn’t go to school until I went to Kimmage

MR: Alright.  And what can you remember about the night in question, the 31May 1941, the night of the bombing itself?

VR: Well, the first thing that I remember, we slept upstairs in the front bedroom, you know Brendan and myself and then, it must’ve only been the two of us at the time was it?

BR: Yes

VR: Or no, how about, maybe Brian

MC: No, Brian and Fergus were born

BR: No, Brian and Fergus

VR: Brian and Fergus were there, Yes, they were younger, but I remember my uncle Dessie, that was my mother’s brother, he worked for my father, he lived in South William Street, and he came dashing out, sometime between 12pm and 1am, he says, ‘Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe, the shop on the North Strand is all on fire!’  You know, and that’s my recollection of what happened on that particular night, you know

BR: And that particular night, I remember

MR:  You were, you were living in Kimmage at this point

MC: Yes

BR: We were living in Kimmage

MR:  He came out from, he came out from South William Street?

VR: From South William Street on his bike

BR: You see, my uncle would have been only twenty-one, we were reckoning coming in, around twenty. He could have been in town that night

MC: He could’ve been in the city

BR: You see

MC: In the Metropole at a dance like, you know the way

BR: As you know it was only like one o’clock or half twelve, it wasn’t, or something like that

VR: Around that time

MR: Yes, something like that

BR: It was early so like if a young fella could have been, could have been still in town – although they had no money those days (laughs), but he could have been.  But so, but it was Dessie. Before that, like that particular night the search lights, I remember looking out and seeing these search lights and there was akak were  in action, (makes explosion noises), so something must have been  going on, but then a little while later, our, in the house, my mother’s house, the windows were…

MC: Sash windows

BR: You know the sash windows, you know the, you know the old…

MC: They went up and down the rope

VR: You know, they rattle

BR: And they rattled, in the wind even, but that night they really rattled

MR:  Yes

BR: I said, janey mack what was that?  But I didn’t hear any sound now, but just the windows, I remember them very well, the rattle, in fact I could have been half asleep and they woke me, I don’t know, but anyway they, I probably wasn’t in bed, but that’s, that’s what I would remember of that, just that night, at that particular, that’s all I would remember of it.  And you?

VR: No, no, that’s all I remember that night, that particular night now, is just me uncle Dessie coming down

BR: The next morning

MC: Well what I remember, my father telling us about that night, that when he got the call he had two girls working for him in the ladies’ salon, in the North Strand, in the shop  and his concern was for them. And he got on his bike and cycled from the Lower Kimmage Road all the way over, like, and his, his concern was, were they in bed, right, and on the way over, when he was cycling up Fairview he saw the two of them walking, they were at a dance in the Metropole Hotel and they were walking home.

MR: This was after the bomb had fallen

MC: That was after the bomb had fallen but I, I always remember my father telling me that, that they, that the two girls were actually walking home so, like he was relieved that they weren’t injured.

MR: And just looking at the, just for a reference for the tape, just looking at a photograph here of the damaged shop on number 34 North Strand Road.  It, there would have been a distinct possibility those two girls would have been killed in that explosion in looking at that there.

MC: Well the roof was

BR:  Well no, well, Yes, but you see it depends on where they were.

MC: But upstairs

BR: But they probably would have been OK to be honest, it was the front of the shop

MC: That took the impact

BR: The window went in and I know for a fact that the equipment within the shop, my dad was able to salvage a lot of it, and in fact it was from, with that equipment that he opened the place in Kimmage.

MR: Right, right, right

BR: Now it, he had to

VR: Yes, I think, when you looked, I didn’t think, it didn’t look that badly damaged, it didn’t look that badly damaged inside

BR: No, well that’s

VR: And the houses on the far side now

BR: Ah, they were

VR: They were demolished

BR: They were old houses

VR: There’s one thing that sticks in my mind, my father, he dropped me in on the Sunday to to show me the place, you know

MC: It happened on Friday night.

BR: Now remember Vincent was only two now, three.

MC: No, he was nine

VR: No, nine

BR: Oh you were nine then, sorry, yes

VR: But, on, there was apartments or flats on the opposite side, you know.

BR: They were, they were three-story houses.

VR: Yes. And there was just then,

BR: A dresser

VR: A dresser,

MR: Yes

VR: Stuck on the wall, with no floor holding it up, it was just embedded into the wall  (laughs)  and it was just sitting there and it looked terrible strange, you know (laughs), to see it, and then going in to the shop then, the shop beside my father’s shop, there was a grocers, all the jam, all the jars of jam were up on the shelf, you know, and all the glass had just shattered in them, you know! (laughs)

MC:  The jam was running down

VR: Just they, they just stuck in my mind, you know, all the years.

MR: And just, and just for reference, for the tape, if you were standing on Newcomen Bridge looking into the city,

BR/VR: Yes

MR: Your shop would have been on the right hand side there.

VR: On the right hand side, yes, and the, and the apartments and the flats were on the left hand side.

BR: They were three-storey houses.

MC: At the time, yes

BR: They were three-storey houses but they were, you know, they were

MC: Georgian houses

BR: Very old houses

MR: Yes, Yes

BR: I remember, they were very, very old buildings.

MR: They seemed to be a lot of damage on that side of the road.

VR: There was, there was more damage on that side than on the other side.

BR: Because the stuff on the right hand side was relatively new.

MR: Yes.

BR: Relatively, like those houses you’re talking about were probably a hundred years old, you know.

MR: I think that would have been the spot now where Marino College is, there

BR: Down further

MC: No, Marino College is down further

BR: It’s down further, Yes

BR/VR: Yes, Yes

MR: Right. And can you, can you recall any of the, the military activity, air raid wardens, people going around or anything?

BR:  Well I, I remember, well I, it was the next morning, like Vincent went in to the Sunday, my dad brought me in on the Saturday morning

VR: Yes

BR: He came home that night and then he said, come on I have to bring you in to see this. Now I was thirteen remember at this time, and onto his bike, I was on the crossbar, over to the North Strand, and the place was alive with … ARP?


MR: ARP, Yes

BR: ARP lads, really, and they were… my Dad went to go through the cordon and they stopped him and, and he had to sort of let them know who he was and he let us through, they let us through, you know the cordon

MC: But what you remember is the hole in the ground

BR: Oh I very much remember the hole in the ground (laughs)

MC: You see

BR: Yes, that, Yes, I remember

VR: I don’t remember that

BR: Actually, in my, in my mind, it was bigger than that (laughs)

MC: Ah yes, yes

BR: When I was smaller, right (laughs)

MC: But what you, what you always said to me was, you remember the auxiliary services or whatever they were, soldiers or, around…

BR: Yes

MC: Around, looking into the hole

BR: Yes, it was, but the thing I remember when I was at that hole, William Street is, do you know William Street?

MR: Yes

BR: You know, well it’s just, it was nearly out on the North Strand, where William Street would come out, that’s where the bomb dropped, around that, just around there, now I’m not saying precisely

MR: At the bottom of Clarence Street, somewhere around was it?

BR: (pause) No, you know William Street is the next, like the

MC: Back to back

BR: Like, what do you, Charleville Mall was the first one

MR: Charleville Mall, Yes, Yes

BR: And the second one was William Street, well coming out from William Street, onto the North Strand

MR: Yes

BR: It was just maybe a little to the right, there, the hole was, to my recollection. And I remember when we were looking, we walked there, we were looking into that, you know I was a kid (laughs), looking into this hole, I always said, ‘God, you’d fit a bus in that!’

MR: Yes

MC: (laughs)

BR: But you know, you probably would, I don’t know if, it was a huge, a huge crater, to me. But while we were there, there was commotion on the right hand side, right on the corner of William Street, there was a jewellers there, Fitzpatrick’s, and there was commotion around, they ran, there was, the ARP, they were all around, and they found another body that time, in the back of the building

MR: Yes

BR: And they were bringing, that’s just

MC: That’s on the Saturday morning

BR: That was on the Saturday morning, so they were still picking up, like you could understand it, that would have been early Saturday morning, you know, but anyway

MR: Yes, Yes

MC: Was there much rubble

BR: That’s, that would be

MR: How did your, how did your father cope with all the destruction to the business and all that, was there any

BR: Well I, I, huge, but, will, I had better talk?

MC: Well there was no business (laughs), the shop was closed

BR: Well there was no business, and there were four of us, and Maura, Maura was on the way, was it

MC: Kevin was on the way

BR: No, Kevin was on the way. Yes that’s ‘41. Yes, November ‘41. And he was just, business gone, nothing, and

MC: A mortgage out in Kimmage

BR: Yes

MC: He had a mortgage on the house in Kimmage

BR: So he, he, like he got, there was no, no, because he was self-employed he didn’t get anything

MR: Yes, so no social welfare, no help, or nothing like that

VR: No, nothing

BR: And for the ten months until he opened in Kimmage, ten, about ten months later, all he got, help, was about, I don’t know whether it was ten or twenty from the Red Cross at Christmas. That was the only help he got. But what I always was annoyed about because I was old enough to hear the talking, was that the Corporation, like he couldn’t take a job because for so many months, the corporation were chasing him all over the place, you know.

MR: Yes

BR: But, they weren’t, but I mean they were making demands that he had to fulfil which were chasing him all over the place, you know.

MC: He was lucky in the sense that, my father, like was, starting off to become a bit of an entrepreneur.

BR: Yes

MC: Like he had bought a little bit of property down on the northside of Dublin

BR: Yes

MC: And like, but he, and he was, and he had bought the house out in Kimmage

MR: Yes

MC: Like, you know the way, and he was paying that mortgage and he had the little bit of, the few cottages

BR: The cottages, on Amiens, in Amiens Street

MR: Yes

MC: He actually had to sell them

BR: But they

MC: For survival

MR: Yes

BR:  But they were busy, they were in bits, he used to spend his day off, on the Monday, a half-day

MC: Doing them up

BR: Because I went down with him, and he’d be trying to patch them up, they were in bits

MC: To rent them

BR: Ah to rent, but you know

MC: But I mean, I mean in today’s  recollection or like in today’s time, this time, he would have been sort of, like what they call building a property portfolio you know, and but, like he lost everything.

BR: No, but the reason, you see that the thing, there’s a history to this, my grandfather, although he was a hairdresser, he got into the property business, and my Da, being the youngest in the family, thought he could do the same,  and my father-no way, my grandfather was a different ball game, you know what I mean,

MR: Yes, Yes

BR: My Da got stuck with these couple of cottages, literally, but he sold them, but at the, thank God, I mean I always thank…

MC: But he sold them for survival

BR: Up here, I mean I always think, it’s the one thing that I always remember, as where I really felt there is a God there, because that few bob that he got, kept us going and believe it or not my Da used to come in, he used to put the money in the…

MC: Irish Permanent

BR: No, no, the place in Pearse Street, the Workman’s Benefit Building Society in Pearse Street

MR: Yes

BR: And every week we’d go in, I wouldn’t go in every [week], but I was in there many times, and he’d collect his thirty shillings, that’s what we’d buy, to keep us going, to try… so that he’d have enough. And then when, in (pause) up and down, you were asking about what happened then, what, what… We used to go down to Mount Argus to mass, you know Mount Argus yourself, and the shop that we’re in now, he, it was to let, Delaney’s, and it, we’d pass it every week, and I don’t know whether  somebody suggested to him or what but he just said God maybe, and he, that’s how he rented it.

MR: Yes, Yes

BR: You know, he rented that, but you see

MC: You bought, did you not buy

VR: Eventually he bought it

BR: Oh no, no, no, thirty shillings a week

MC: Yes, but he eventually bought it

VR: He eventually bought it

BR: Well, yes but

MC: Well anyway

BR: That’s a long story because

MC: Yes

BR: What happened, you see, from the German government, he got £1,100 from the German government compensation about a, about a year, a little over a year later, a year and a couple of, it could’ve been July, August of the following year. And the idea was that that would give him enough money to buy the shop in Kimmage, but when he went to the landlord, when he did get that money, he went to the landlord straight, ‘This is great, if I, if this pays for the shop, I’ll be just back where I was.’

MR: Yes

BR: But it didn’t (laughs), it didn’t work well because the landlord wouldn’t sell it, so, so, but now, you see it’s 1941, 1942, 1943, then Maura came along, so now there was six kids, so there’s a drain on the, apart from, like even the shop, like naturally when you open first brand new to Kimmage

MC: You had to build up a new business

BR: You had to set up a new business, it wasn’t easy

MR: Yes, Yes

VR: It was a bakery or something, wasn’t it, before?  There was a bakery at the back or something

BR: But what he did was he got…

MC: He got the 1100

BR: No, he got that and then, but, as I said, he went to the landlord and he wouldn’t sell. The years went on and about 194…, I’d guess ‘46 or ‘47, I’d guess, the landlord came to him and said to him, ‘I’ll sell’. He said [the landlord] ‘if, if you don’t want it’ he says, ‘If you have no lease’, he says “I am going to sell it so there’s no guarantee its going to be left here.’

MR: Yes, Yes, Yes

BR: That it’s, that it’s going to be left to him, and, it was, the whole episode anyway was crazy for those few years but what he did was, he said OK, but sure he went to the bank and he’d been taking money, building the business

MR: Yes, Yes

BR: The money was dwindling

MR: Yes

BR: But the landlord, to give you an idea, the landlord wanted 1,650, now my Da got 1,100, there was a big discrepancy

MC: Yes

MR: Yes

BR: Now I know hundreds now


BR: But do you see the difference

MC: Because there was

BR: But there was that big difference so he, what he had to do was, and there was a customer in the shop that knew somebody in the Irish Permanent Building Society, and brought him in and introduced him and anyway fixed it up that he did get it, he got a mortgage to buy it and that’s how, that’s how he bought Kimmage

MC: That’s how he bought it

BR: But then do you see the, the problem, well it wasn’t a problem, but there were tenants upstairs and they were very low rent because they were there for years, and years, and years, so that wasn’t much help to him, do you know what I mean

MR: Yes, Yes

BR: All we had at that time was the shop, at the bottom, just, not even the hallway just

MC: The working shop

BR: The working shop

MR: Yes, Yes

BR: Sorry, is that too much?

MR: No, no, that’s perfect, Yes, no, that’s exactly what we’re looking for

BR: Is it what you’re looking for, Yes?

MC: That was how, that was how, like you know, the family survived, as I said the family increased, like you know what I mean, the bombing in 1941 there was four children. Right, by the time he got, you know, he opened the other shop in 1942, in Kimmage in March ’42, and then in November there was another child, and two years later there was another child.

BR: That was you (laughs)

MC: Yes, so by 1943 he had six children, paying a rent for the shop, for the business, and paying a mortgage on the living accommodation that we had, and trying to build up…

BR: Ah no, no, no, he rented it, it was tough

MC: That’s what I’m trying to say

MR: And was your, was your, was your mother alive at this point?

MC: Oh yes, yes

BR: Yes, yes

MC: None of this, none of this, and none of us would be here today without my mother, she was a brilliant survivor. My mother could make a meal out of nothing .You know the way, so, they had nothing, like you know the way, but she was great at, she did everything, and she made all our clothes, she sewed, she cooked, like, you know, she did everything.

BR:  And she lived to be ninety-seven (laughs)

MC/MR: (laughter)

MC: She was, like, she was a great support to my father in the sense that, you know, if my father gave her a shilling she would make a meal out of it, like you know the way, she could go to the shops and make a meal out of it

BR: But it’s the way things were in those days

MR: What, what do you remember about things like the rationing and all that, do you remember much about, about the food?

MC: The rationing books

MR: The rationing books

MC: The rationing books

BR: Well, I, I remember the rationing books, but you see again, this was, where we were, forty

MC: You should remember the rationing books, I remember, I remember the rationing books (laughs)

BR: Oh I do remember them well but I’m just saying, like, with the family, I remember my mother saying, at least, like everybody get, the kids, the children got

MR: Had a ration book

BR: Got rations so it was easier to manage

MC: Because, because there was eight of us

BR: But them my Da, like he, he used to bring home, even from the North Strand, but even when we went to Kimmage, he got in with a butcher… Did you ever hear of a, of lard?

MC: Dripping, dripping and lard

MR: Yes

BR: Well, do you know the way they, they, he used to come home, they used to strip this out of a cow, it’s like

MC: I don’t know, it’s, it’s, it’s actually fat

VR: It was suet

MC: Suet, suet, Yes

BR: But it was all, it was, it was, it was held together

MC: With threading, threaded

BR: With thready stuff and

VR: It was like muscle, like

BR: What?

VR: Nearly like muscle, you know

BR: Yes but it’s

MC: In sheets, in sheets

BR: In sheets, but my Da used to get this, some, some

MC: Customer, butcher (laughs)

BR: My mother would put it into the pot, boil it, and get dripping

MC: We always had a bowl of dripping, bread and dripping

BR: And we had, we, we, we, we’d have fry bread every morning, and it was great.  We used to love it

MR: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes

BR: That was, but about the ration, we didn’t, you asked me about the ration, it’s, the thing is, there was no, we weren’t, like, my Da smoked,

MR: Right

BR/VR: The pipe

BR: But one ounce of tobacco a week now, he had the hard stuff and he’d cut it, but he used to make up, was it, carrots was it?

MC: Carrots, that’s what our father used to make, grated carrots

BR: Grated carrots (laughs)

MC: And mix it with it

BR: And mix it with it, with the, with the,

MC: With the tobacco

BR: With the tobacco (laughs)

MR: My, my mother used to tell me about carrot tea

BR: Carrot tea

MC: Carrot tea, they used to make it, they used to make it, Yes, scrape, grate the carrot, and dry it, Willie’s father, they used to like that, the rationing books, and they couldn’t get much tea, so they used to grate the carrot and leave it at the side of the fire and it would dry up

BR: Yes, Yes

MC: And you’d crunch it into flakes and you mix it in with the tea.

BR: Yes, Yes, and also, but the innovation was fantastic. You know these heaters, you, you got a can, you probably

MR: Like a biscuit tin

BR: Yes

MR: And someone, a few people have mentioned that to us

BR: Yes, and they’d put, it was full of sawdust

MR: Sawdust, yes

BR: And they’d be able to, be able to get it going and then cook on it

MC: Yes

BR: Because the, the, the gas, we had the glimmer man

MR: Do you have any experiences with the glimmer man, a few people have said to me that they’d had

BR: Yes, well, the, well, I tell you, my mother used to say to me, ‘If you see a fella round with, on a bike, going around the door, come in and tell me’ (laughs)

MC: ‘Come in and tell me’ (laughs)

MR: I remember, a few people telling us about having, they might be cooking something on the glimmer and they’d always have a cold, wet rag there

MC: Yes

BR: Yes, that (laughs), Yes

MC: And you’d put it out

BR: Yes, Yes

MR: It would cool down the pipe, it would cool down the gas ring

BR: Yes

VR: I think, I remember my father coming home every Saturday night with the sweetened tinned milk, do you remember that?

BR: Yes

VR: The tin sweetens, and you put with the bread, it was gorgeous

MC: (laughs)

VR: Absolutely gorgeous now, you couldn’t get jam at the time, you know

MC: Yes, yes

VR: And we used to get this and ah Jesus, it was lovely

MC: (laughs)

MR: And would you’d have had any experiences of pawn shops, would that have been a kind of currency then

VR: Well there is pawn shops but no, we never, I never

BR: No

MC: We never, no, no

BR: Never.  I knew, and I do remember people queuing up going into them, very much

VR: I tell you what

BR: There was one on Leonard’s Corner

VR: Yes

MR: Yes, Yes

BR: O’Brien’s

MR: O’Brien’s, Yes

MC: It’s still there

BR: It is yes, and I remember, is it still there?

MC: Actually no I think it’s closed now

BR: Ah it’s closed, I think it is. Yes, but like I remember, God, there’d be queues there

VR: Yes

BR: In the mornings

MR: A few people were telling us they used to go down and they’d, they’d pawn the Sunday suit and they’d get it back again

MC: The next Saturday

MR: And they were saying if they were unfortunate enough for somebody, there’d be an unexpected funeral or anything

MC: During the week

MR: You were snookered because your suit was in the pawn shop

MC: That’s right

BR: That’s it, yes

MR: So they were praying that God forbid nothing was going to happen during the week, or you’d need the suit, you know

MC: (laughs)

BR: Yes

VR: Opposite where we lived too, in the Lower Kimmage Road, there was a quarry, you know, and the gas company used to, just deposit all their waste into it, you know, and people used to go in there and rummage through it and they’d come up with these eggs

BR: eggs

VR: Like [coke eggs] if you know what I mean, and they would sell them, and my mother would buy it off them

BR: Oh we were, you see they’d save them

VR: They’d save them, you know, we would buy these bags of stuff off the kids selling

BR: No, no, no not alone, […] money, a couple of the factories around, when they’d empty their furnace

MR: Oh Yes, Yes, Yes

BR: The stuff that wouldn’t be burnt, everything was thrown out

VR: Yes, Yes, Yes

BR: And when it was thrown into the quarry opposite, they were filling it,

MR: Yes

BR: Lads would go, but they did the same on Sundrive Road

VR: Yes, I was just going to say in Sundrive Road, people say, I mean, sometimes people, you’d look at say Calcutta and these countries or they’d see people out digging

MC: Out rummaging, Yes, Yes, and we did it

VR: And we had that here, we had that in Sundrive Road here,

MC: And, and, and in the quarry, and in the quarry in Kimmage

VR: In the forties, and many kids, many people were killed digging in, they used to dig into, underneath

BR: [I’m sure you heard that before]

MR: And it would collapse on top of them

VR: And it would collapse on top of them

BR: Yes, Yes

MC: Piles of rubbish

MR: This would be around on, on, on the Kimmage Road, I’m trying to figure out where that quarry would be

MC: Sundrive Road

VR: Sundrive Park it is

MC: You know where

MR: Sundrive Park

MC: That, no that’s, Sundrive Park is one, but the one on the Kimmage Road, you know the glass place on the Kimmage Road

MR: Yes, Yes

MC: Behind that, well where all those new houses are in there, in there, that was the quarry, and a good few people

BR: And they got it, opposite

MC: Opposite St. Martin’s Park

BR: Opposite St. Martin’s Park, there were, they were a row of houses, a row of cottages, running along there, and then behind the cottages was the quarry

MC: Where we actually lived

BR: Oh there were several people drowned

MC: You know, you know Murphy’s, you know Murphy’s, you know on the hill there, they have a  little shop

MR: Yes

MC: And a block of houses, four houses

MR: I think so, yes

MC: Like, and it’s a solicitor’s now

MR: I think I know the one you’re talking about

MC: It’s just as you’re coming down from, from the KCR, like you pass St. Martin’s Park, and then

MR: Yes

MC: And then there’s a, four terraced houses

MR: On the left-hand side

MC: On the left-hand side and that’s where we lived

BR: And there was, the house beside us

MC: The house, the house next door, had a shop in the sitting room

MR: Ah Yes, I think I know exactly where you were

MC: Murphy’s

BR: It was a little shop

MC: It was a dairy, it was a dairy and they used to give free milk like in, in the early forties, I don’t know why there was free milk given out but I just remember the queues

BR: There was kids, there was schools

VR: Used to go in there and get buttermilk

MC: Yes, Yes

VR: Christ it was gorgeous

MC: (laughs)

BR: Sorry, we’re deviating

MR: Not at all.  You were saying as well, you were saying as well that that your father managed to sell the equipment out of the shop, to set up the new business in, in Kimmage. How did he manage to haul all of that stuff over?

BR: No, he must have got, I think he got somebody to bring, because some of the

VR: Huge slabs of marble wasn’t there, slabs of marble

MC: Loads of marble

BR: He got a marble mason. I remember it being done. And he was a very old man, came to cut it, and to drill it. At that time that was a trade, a marble mason, and he put, he put these bits of wood, these bits of marble up. Now like at that time the shop was (pause) oh my God, was about a third of the size it is now, you know,

MC: Now this is Kimmage

BR: Kimmage, or maybe less, maybe a bit more than a third

MC: The shop on the North Strand was a very upmarket barber shop

MR: Right

BR: At that time

MC:  You know what I mean, if, in its era, you know the way it was a, and my father like, sort of, when he took it over from my grandfather, he, you know, sort of had it, did it up very well, and it was in marble and chrome

BR: My grandfather was, did all this stuff, you know

MC: Yes, but it was marble and chrome and that’s what my father salvaged for the shop in Kimmage

VR: And there was another thing, the things, the brushes that you’d use to pull down, when your hair would be done you know, they’d pull these brushes down

BR: Oh Yes, they’d have wheels, they’d have wheels, I never saw them now (laughs)

VR: To get the […] out of your head, to get out the loose hairs, you know

MC: (laughs)

BR: Filthy, filthy, when they do this […], it would whiz round and come back at you, anyway

MR: And what age, you, you got into that business, I know yourself Brendan from the shop that you got into barbering, but were, were you at that age already involved in cutting hair, at that point, when you’d just been moved to Kimmage?

VR: You would have been a lather boy, were you?

BR: Oh no, see the, I was, I was thirteen when the bomb took place

MR: Right

BR: And I didn’t go into, I went into, my Da opened, that was ’41, ’42 my Da opened the shop

MR: Right

BR: And ’43, the next year

MC: Fifteen

BR: When I was fifteen, I was the eldest, so you, you weren’t asked what you were going to be


BR: You just went in

MC: You followed your father…

BR: You just went, and that’s how I ended up there.  In fact, I’ve just started I’ve just started my seventieth year in Kimmage

MR: In work

MC: He’s eighty-four now, Brendan

MR: That’s fantastic

BR: Would you believe?

MC: (laughs)

BR: My seventieth year, I don’t believe it myself (laughs)

VR/MR: (laughter)

VR: And I’m sixty years up in Drimnagh

MC: Vincent has a shop in Drimnagh

MR: Right, and did you open that shop up in Drimnagh around the same time?

VR: No, no, it would have been ten years, we opened in, the Kimmage opened in ‘42, I opened in ‘52

MC: Yes

MR: And at the time you were saying you, you remember seeing the searchlights and all that, but they were the searchlights around the North Strand, and you could see those from Kimmage?

BR: Oh well they wouldn’t have been, they would not, wherever they had searchlights, no, you could just see

VR: You could just see the shapes in the air

BR: You know, the beams, you know, that’s

VR: I don’t remember them

MC: I think they had them in the park, I remember them in the Phoenix Park, seeing the lights

BR: I do remember searchlights, I do remember them, that particular night I don’t

MR: I think they had some in Ringsend and around the North Wall

MC: I think they had them around the Phoenix Park

VR: You see, you wouldn’t see them down low, you’d see them into the sky, you’d see them, and criss-cross from one another

MR: And would you have, would you have remembered hearing, hearing the noise of planes or anything like that?

BR: Oh yes, yes you would, Yes, the odd time, now I wouldn’t swear on all of this, you don’t know how much your memory conjures up

MR: Yes

BR:  And so I, I wouldn’t go too far with that now

MR: And were there any other things about the war generally, about anything that sticks in your mind, even maybe even anything around, anything around Christmas time even, as kids, or, is there any one thing you remember, any particular insights of the war,

BR: I know what you mean, I know what you mean

MR: Or do you remember the very end of the war, is there anything like that that sticks out?  Just general stuff

BR: Yes, as you ask me there, I can’t think of anything

VR: I know, do you know, the only thing I can remember, I remember as kids now, you know, don’t ask me why, we were up for the Germans

MC: You were up for the Germans (laughs)

VR: Up for the Germans, you know,

BR: Ah well that was an […]  thing

VR: That was an anti-British thing, you know what I mean

BR: Ah, anti-British

VR: Up for the Germans, we were delighted with the Germans

MC: With the Germans, yes, yes

BR: And now, it’s the opposite (laughs)

MR: It’s gas, a few people have said that but they were saying a lot of it was

BR: It wasn’t, initially, although they believed it was the Germans, there wasn’t absolute sure, and there was

VR: There was talk of that alright

BR: There was talk but I don’t know. I never saw anything written about blaming the Brits. What they did do, they blamed the Brits – Churchill I think it was, they thought that, that whatever beam they were, they would send the Germans for, for Belfast, that they were able to bend this beam and that they bent it so that this, one or two planes came in

MC: That it was guided in, I remember that

BR: There was something about that all right, but I, I don’t think, I think most people believed it was German, because the Germans owned up to it anyway afterwards

MR: Yes, Yes

BR: But you could imagine, like I, I, you know, when you think about it, I imagine, up in the plane and you’ve the ‘akakak’ coming at you, and you’re loaded with bombs

VR: You’d just let them go

BR: You know, the only way you can get height and get away from it

MC: Is to drop them

BR: Is to get rid of the bombs, and if you, if you know the North Strand, the sea isn’t very far away

MR: No

MC: Well at that time the sea came in, it actually came in to Fairview Park

BR: Yes, exactly, but so

MC: To the, to the Crescent there

BR: It was one of the things that was said, that he, he was hoping that it would go into the sea, just to get rid of the bombs, and then he could get higher and get out of the way. But so, you know, there’s so many extenuating circumstances, aren’t there, and there’s all these things

MC: That theory would be OK for the bombing of the North Strand but it wasn’t ok for the bomb on the North [South] Circular Road, and ones other places, so

BR: No, no, no, no, but the only one, the one in the North Strand

MC: Yes, that one

BR: Was a big bomb, that was a big bomb

VR: That was the biggest

MR: And can you remember anybody, your friends or anybody from the North Strand, were there any fatalities among people that you knew, did you know anyone that had been killed or injured in it?

BR: No

MC: Do you remember my father talking about the butcher’s family, the family butchers

VR: Butchers, Yes

MC: Was it Fitzpatrick’s?

BR: Not Fitzpatrick’s, no Fitzpatrick’s was the jewellers

MC: And who was the butcher?  There’s a family and there was a good few of them lost

BR: Was there, yes?

MC: Yes

BR: What’s the name?  But you see they were, they would have, they were further down

MC: I remember my father talking about that, Yes

BR: They were, they would have been, the butchers that would have been down

MC: Yes, and then there was Roddy’s shop next door to my father’s, I remember Daddy talking about

BR: Oh yes, Mrs Roddy

MC: Mrs Roddy.  But did she die in the bombing?

VR/BR: Oh no, no

BR: No, because I remember, when I was about ten, like we’d been in Kimmage a few years, and when I went over to my Da he forgot his lunch and my mother sent me over and he said ‘Now before you go home, go into Mrs Roddy and tell her who you are.’

MC: Yes

BR: This is the post office next door where the last shop, the first one was a post office and then my Da was next. And when I went in, what did I do, walk, a young fella of ten, and I just, I had a mop of red hair, curly hair at that time, and I looked, and the woman’s head came up, you know, through the grate, and said, ‘Are you alright there, son?’ And I said, ‘I was told to come in and ask for Mrs Roddy’. She said, ‘I’m Mrs Roddy, and who are you?’ And then said, ‘Oh, Brendan!’, because she would have remembered me

MC: Yes, because you were born there

BR:  From working there and from living there.  And she said, ‘Will you look at him!’  And I’ve never forgotten this, ‘Will you look at him, look at the rosy cheeks he has, wouldn’t you know he was living out the country?’ (laughs)

MC: Because Kimmage was the country

BR: Kimmage is the country (laughs) Sorry now, we’re deviating

MR: No, is that what people thought? I hear a lot of people say the same thing about Finglas, that that was considered miles away.

MC: Yes

BR: Kimmage was like a village

VR: But sure my father

MC: The bus only went, the bus only went, or the tram only went to Harold’s Cross Bridge

VR: I remember my father at that time then

MC: That’s, you had to walk from there

VR: He got a plot up in Captain’s Lane

BR: I know (laughs)

VR: He had a plot up there, he used to grow his vegetables and that, you know

MR: And would, just looking at the Kimmage Road there now on the way up to the KCR, there wouldn’t probably, there would, I suppose most of those houses on the way up there probably weren’t even built at that point

MC: No, you know the, you know St. Martin’s Park

MR: St. Martin’s would have been

BR: No

MC: You know St. Martin’s

BR: No, the main road would have been built

MC: Yes

BR: Most of the main road

MC: St. Martin’s Park was built in 1962

BR: Martin’s, that’s a different, you know the newer, and even the few houses going up, just beyond the garage, they are all new

MR: Yes

VR: And the one’s further on, all the way up would have been old houses

BR: And they would, they’re all

MC: And you know the turn for Dublin Dairies, what used to be Premier Dairies, Captain’s Road

VR: Captain’s Road, Yes

MC: Well directly, like where you turn left, if you just, on, on the, on the right-hand side there, that’s where there were plots

MR: Oh right, yes,

MC: That’s where the plots, that’s where, now they built houses there, it used to be, was it, what was the name, St. Anne’s House, the big house that was there?

VR: Well that, you’re going up

MC: No, at, at the top of the Kimmage Road where, going up to Dublin Dairies, what used to be Dublin Dairies

VR: That’s Captain’s Road, Yes

MC: Captain’s Road, but on the other side

VR: Captain’s Lane it was

MC: Yes, near the

VR: Oh on the opposite side that you mean, that’s going towards Mount Talent?

MC: No

BR: No, no, no, on the right

MC: On the right hand side, there were the plots, Daddy had plots there

MR: And then, so, so at that, at what point, how long did it take, you were saying that the corporation had actually turned around to your dad and said that basically they were, were, they had decided to knock the shop and all the buildings on the North Strand down, and he was waiting over a year

BR: Well it was several months, definitely and, no, it took, no, he, he opened Kimmage after ten months, and it was opened on a shoestring, I can tell you that, because all the stuff, the mirrors, do you remember the mirrors, my grandfather had mirrors, they were about six foot high, and this width over his chair, it was a thing at the time, you know

MR: Yes

BR: And all these frames, small frame, but it was very ornate

MC: gilded

BR: What do you call it, anyway, frames, and they, but my Da got, he brought home, the mirrors were ok, and in Kimmage we had these three big mirrors hanging from the wall (laughs)

VR: (laughs)

BR: You know, when you’d come in the mirrors would nearly knock you down, you know (laughs)

MR: After you’d eventually moved out of the North Strand and the shop was gone in the North Strand, did you ever have any reason or cause to go back there, did you know people in that area?  Did you ever see much of it in the years after when the, I believe it was laid waste for a very long time

BR: Well yes, it was, I wouldn’t know how long but it was laid waste, no, because my

MC: My grandfather’s shop, house was number 54

BR: Yes but you see that’s, they, but they, like Louis and Molly, they lived there alright

MC: Yes, they lived there

BR: But Molly

MC: We didn’t visit them much, like even I wasn’t born but my father didn’t go over

BR: No, well

MC: But what I remember of the ruin, of the North Strand was, there were tiles on my father’s doorstep

VR: Yes, they were there for years, for years afterwards

MC: And we used to go down to Skerries every weekend

VR: Yes, Yes

MC: Every Saturday or Sunday and every time we stopped at the traffic lights

VR: You could see the

MC: Like even my kids, my eldest son is forty-seven, and even he remembers granda saying, “Look at the tiles, that’s where my shop was”. (laughs)

BR: (laughs)

MR: There would have been tiles on the porch

MC: On the doorstep, Yes, Yes, and they were now, like, as I say like, well into the sixties because Kieran was born in ’65 and, like, he remembers

BR: So the, the, the flats

MC: So the flats were built obviously after that

BR: After that

MR: And, and is that where those flats are now today

MC: On Newcomen Bridge, Yes

MR: Just at Newcomen Bridge there, on the right, looking in towards town there’s two big blocks of flats now, that’s

MC: That’s right, that’s the area

BR: That’s the area

MC: Where the shop was

BR: You’ve Charleville Mall and you’ve William Street

VR: It’s that block

MR: Yes, it’s, it’s amazing, just again for reference, looking at the photograph, there are so many references to the famous phone box that, that

MC: (laughs)

MR: And you can recall that as well, there was no damage to the actual

VR: The phone box, no

MR: The phone box itself

MC: And the tree was there

BR: The tree

VR: The tree was there for a long time afterwards

MC: Afterwards, yes, the tree was there

VR: You see, I think, I’d say the reason the phone box was still there, was because it was a new

MC: Building

BR: Yes, Yes

VR: You know, I mean it was new

MC: It wasn’t

VR: Where, everything else was

MC: That bit older

BR: Yes, because none of the buildings on that side, I mean, the shop front was gone

VR: Yes, the glass was smashed in

BR: The glass was all pushed in, yes, and the roof was gone off it

MC: It would have been thinner glass than they put in shops now

VR: Yes, Yes, Yes

BR: But apart from that, apart from that, the actual

MC: The blast

BR: Like the whole frame was pushed away, you know, but like I, I, but there was no brickwork disturbed

MC: But the roof, I thought you said the roof

BR: Ah Yes, well, but that’s maybe the top it, I’m talking about the actual structure

VR: Yes, Yes

MR: And there was no fire damage or anything like that?

BR: No, no, that’s a, I remember, like you said, I remember, ‘The shop’s on fire, the shop’s on fire’, so he couldn’t have been down there

MC: Yes

BR: He must have just got the idea

MC: Got the word

MR: And were there any other businesses that you’d remember from down there that would have had suffered the same kind of damage as you? Or people you would have

BR: Well, Roddy’s would have been one, and chemist was next door to my Da, that would have been two, and there was a grocer’s down next door again

VR: Yes, Yes

BR: So that’s, they would

MC: They all would have been

BR: All about the same, but as you went down towards town, you would have got

MC: The damage was worse

BR: More damage

MR: Yes

BR: Like, like when you cross William Street, the first shop was Fitzpatrick’s, and that was very badly damaged now, because it was very close to this thing, and when I saw your thing on the, the YouTube, the, the footage [photos illustrating the damage caused by the North Strand Bombing].

MR: Oh right, right, yes

BR: Like, I couldn’t believe all the streets around were so affected

MC: (laughs)

BR: Roofs gone off houses, you know, I just saw the North Strand, I didn’t realise there was so much other damage done, but like, there were gruesome stories, you know, of people, I remember, somebody’s head was supposed to have been found

VR: Yes

BR: Now whether this was true or not I don’t know but I’m just, there were gruesome stories

MC: I mentioned that to Ellen, like you know the way, about the head, and she said no, that was a myth

BR: Was that a myth? Was it

MC: She just said, I said to her I remember my father told, my father told me that

BR: Yes, you know that’s the thing, you know, these events, you don’t know. The houses, as you said,  with the, the dresser stuck to the wall, the people living in those houses hadn’t a hope

VR: On the far side, Yes

MC: Yes

BR: The walls would have come in on them

MC: Yes

BR: And where, on the right hand side, although as you went down, it definitely, near the epicentre

VR: Yes, Yes

BR: Of the bomb, it would have been definitely

MR: And the other businesses that you mentioned that were around close to where you were operating, would you have had any idea whether they moved to other places or have you any idea what might have happened a lot of those?

BR: No, oh Yes, well I do, I remember Roddy’s now, the post office, was on, if you, let’s say that, that this is where Roddy’s were and we were, then there’s Newcomen Bridge, they moved to the shop here,

MC: On the other side, opposite the cinema

BR: At the beginning

MC: Opposite the cinema

BR: No, not opposite the cinema, on the same side

MC/VR: On the same side as the cinema

BR: And this is Ossory Road, that brings you down

MC/MR: Yes

BR: Well, right there, it was right on the North Strand, about there, that’s where

MC: The post office moved to

BR: But now, anyone else now, I wouldn’t know

MR: Well that’s great, if there’s, unless there’s anything else you’d like to say

BR: If we think, sure if anything comes we can always

MR: Absolutely, Yes

BR: You know, but I, I’ve said more than I

MC: No, but

MC/BR: (laughter)

VR: But it’s only when you start talking about these things that they start coming back to you

MR: Well exactly, that’s what a lot of people were saying, that they, that they

MC: But this, as I said like, we had from the North Strand like, you know, we were seventy years in business in Kimmage, like seventy years this year since

VR: Just one thing now. Go ahead

MC: And so many, like the, you were saying, there were eight children and five, six of us took up the industry, kept on the craft of hairdressing

MR: Uh huh

MC: And that passed on to another half dozen of the next generation.

BR: (laughs) Yes, so it’s moving on

VR: But my father could never really settle on the southside

MC: No, he was always a northsider

VR: His heart was always in the northside, always, and eventually, now I don’t know long ago, he opened a shop in Sheriff Street

MC: Oh Yes, Oriel Street, Oriel Street

BR: He didn’t open it, like it was already open

MC: Yes, he rented it

VR: He took it over

MR: Yes

VR: Down there in the

MC: In Oriel Street

VR: He must have been, he must have been about sixty

BR: He was sixty

MC: He was in his sixties

VR: And he was down there in that shop

MC: Beside the Railway Bar

VR: And I had customers coming into me, even still coming into me, telling me that they used to go into him, in Oriel Street, to have a chat

MC: Yes

VR: And said but you couldn’t go in if you were in a hurry

BR: Yes (laughs)


MC: It was beside the Railway Bar

BR: It was like, because I was, he was working in Kimmage and I took over while he went over there and, and

VR: But he loved it over there

BR: But he loved it, absolutely, and it was

MC: He loved the northside

BR: He loved, but apart from that, it was like a holiday to him going over

VR: Yes

MR: Just briefly, can you remember if people followed the course of the war? Did you have any idea of what was going on in the bigger picture?  What would you remember about the very end? Would you remember the V.E. Day? And any announcements about the war being over, on the radio or the telly? Or radio rather!

BR: We had no telly (laughs)

VR: I know there’d all  talk about Lord Haw-Haw

MC: Yes

VR: There was always talk about people listening to him, used to listen to Lord Haw-Haw you know.

BR: I remember the, naturally, I remember the, when it was over

VR: Yes, but that thing, but that didn’t

BR: But that was only in

VR: All the boats going over there- Dunkirk

MR: Yes

VR: But no, I just know, I couldn’t

MC: You can’t remember anything, yes, yes

VR: And the boats going

BR: Ah but you’d, you were, we were very aware here of what was going on, there’s no question about that

VR: Oh definitely

MC: But as teenagers, as young teenagers like, you wouldn’t have been as aware, as the young teenagers today because they have the visual

MR: Oh Yes

MC: You only had the, the audio so, so if you didn’t listen to the radio you didn’t know what went on, where now, like, I mean every house you walk into you see a bit of Sky News so you, without noticing, something will register

BR: Well I tell you, it would have been talked about, like, when I was started to work

MC: Yes, in the shop

BR: It would have been talked about in the shop, now people, ‘God, did you see where the Germans have moved in on somewhere’, and ‘the Germans have been pushed back in somewhere.’ – and all that sort of stuff. Ah no, it was very much in the, in the consciousness of people, if you’d like to put it that way

MR: Yes

MC: Yes, but you don’t particularly remember an incident

BR: An incident, Yes, but very, there wouldn’t be a big incident, like, I can’t remember now, but there would have been, definitely, a “___”, sure I mean we were all, between the all the things that were going on, you had to be aware

MR: Yes, Yes, of course


MR: That’s it, Maura, Brendan, and Vincent thanks very much for your time, coming in, we’ll conclude the interview at 52 minutes.

MC: Yes

MR: And again, thanks a million for coming in today, it’s been great talking to you


MC: Thank you, thank you, Mark

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