My family lived in the Fairview area of Dublin near the North Strand. I was one of eleven children. When the bombs fell on the North Strand my Father George Murphy was the ARP leader of our area. He told of horrific casualties on that night. He pulled many people out of the bombed buildings. Everybody was in a state of shock. He told of many heroes helping people and putting their own lives in jeopardy. Many others provided food and shelter to the survivors. There was a lot of fear in the area, as people thought we would get bombed again. My father made the family go in the arch that divided our houses whenever planes would go overhead. For years after the war my brothers and I would play with the helmets and gas masks left from that time.
My mother, Nancy Dowling, was back in Dublin (she had moved to England in the late 1920s) and staying with her sister in Buckingham St Buildings when the bombing occurred. She had given birth to my sister Anne, a few weeks earlier in the Rotunda. Three elder children were evacuees back in the north of England. My mother had left London to escape the Blitz and have her fourth child in relative peace. On the night in question she had gone to the pictures leaving her new-born child in the care of her sister. During the film she thought she had heard thunder outside but when she left the cinema she realised that the Luftwaffe had followed her to Dublin. She hurried back to Buckingham Street and was relieved to find that the bombs had fallen elsewhere. More than that she was relieved to discover that although the windows of the flat had been blown in the bottle of milk she had left cooling in a saucepan of cold water on the windowsill was still intact!
My Name is Thomas Heffernan. I was born at 60 Railway Street in November 1933. In April 1940 my father died and shortly after my mother, 2 sisters and brother moved to 63 Summerhill facing Quinn’s Pork Shop. When the bomb hit the houses at the corner of North Circular Road opposite Duggan’s Chemist, the whole house shook and glass crashed. Everyone started to scream and cry, roaring and shouting and someone shouting “put out the lights, get out of the house, its going to fall”. I was crying and wanted my communion suit. My grandparents lived in St. Joseph’s mansion and whilst we where going down Buckingham Street to take shelter in their house, the glass was still falling out of the windows in Buckingham Street. We had to walk down the middle of the Street, my Uncle Tommy appeared and helped my mother with the children to safety. There was more screaming when someone shouted Alborough House was bombed – St. Joseph Mansions was know then as Alborough House. My mother was really upset because that is where her parents lived. We now know that in actual fact it was the North Strand. That morning May 31st 1941 I made my Holy Communion at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Gloucester Street. I remember meeting loads of people that day, one lady in particular Mrs. Rice gave me a half crown which was a lot of money then and she said “God Bless yez only for yez we would have been all bombed”. Hector Grey started his business on the North Strand bomb site.
I was just 2 and half at the time of the bombing of the North Strand and we lived at 4 Charlemont Parade. I remember my mother telling me I was asleep in my cot at the time of the bombing. There was a large wardrobe beside my cot which fell across the cot but only for the rail on the cot I would more than likely not be writing this now. The roof had been blown off the house and she told me she shouted up to my older brother who was sleeping in a small upstairs bedroom “what was that bang” and he replied “I don’t know? but I can see the stars”. So that is about as much as I can remember of my Mother telling me of the bombing of the North Strand.
Dermot Moran (d.2003) was living in Drumcondra the nights the bomb fell. He wrote the following letter on 1 – 2 June 1941 to his parents in Kerry in which he vividly described the sights and sounds that he heard from the bedroom window on the 30/31 May 1941. The letter was kindly donated to Dublin City Archives by the Moran Family.
Transcript of Original Letter Page 1
58, Upper Drumcondra Road,
2nd/1st June 1941,
I got your letter and was right glad to hear from ye and to learn all the news. We’ve been having pretty good weather here during the past week though last Sunday was not so very good. As a matter of fact it started pouring, and it was 8 o’clock in the evening before it cleared up. The new church at Drumcondra – Corpus Christi was consecrated that day and & ’tis many the person that got the bad drenching at it. Yesterday, on the other hand, was a really glorious day. In fact ’twas the nearest approach to Summer we’ve had yet.