The nature of total war as was found during the Second World War that any country trying to stay neutral was going to suffer some consequences of that conflict going on around its borders. And it was because of this that Dublin and other places in Ireland suffered damage and loss of life during 1940 and 1941. The incidents were thankfully few in numbers and caused minimum loss of life. They are however stark reminders to us how close Ireland was to the greatest conflict in history. They are also shrouded in myth and conjecture, and for this reason, I hope the following article will shine some light on some of this subject. The following is only a presentation of available sources and not an indept effort at research by any means. Updated March 22nd 2009
Two of the eariest incidents occurred on Tuesday, August 26th
1940, in County Wexford. In one of these, bombs fell near the
Railway viaduct bridge at Ambrosetown and the home of Mr. Jim
Hawkins, in Duncormick, about 5 miles from Campile Creamery.
Some damage was caused to the roof of the house but no one was
injured1. Shortly after, a device was dropped on the
creamery at Campile. Tragically, 3 young women lost their lives.
The dead girls were Mary Ellen Kent (35), who was in charge of
the restaurant attached to the premises, and her sister,
Catherine Kent (25), an assistant in the drapery portion of the
premises, both of Terreragh; and Kathleen Hurley (25), an
assistant in the restaurant, from Garryduff. In the immediate
aftermath the Irish government withheld identifying the
nationality of the aircraft until such information could be
confirmed. Subseqently German radio annonced that one of their
aricraft was responsibe. A check on Irish Newspapers from that
week and after show that the story was widely covered and
refered to German aircraft having dropped the weapon. As at this
time, Germany was in the ascendancy, the Irish government was
immediate but low key in their protests, so as not to antagonize
the then seemingly unstoppable Germans. (2) That
same night, London suffered 6 hours of bombing by Luftwaffe
forces. (3) In March of 1943, the German, government
paid out £9000 in reparation. Strangely, as late as July 2006,
an article in a national newspaper called for a Government
tribunal into the bombing to determine the reason for the event.4
1E-mail correspondence with Mr.
Michael Martin, Tullycanna, Wexford - 2002
2O'Drisceoil, Donal "Censorship in Ireland 1939 - 1945" (Cork University Press -1996) Pg. 106
3Images of War (Periodical) Orbis Publishing 1996-1998 War Diary Part 1 - Pg. 6
4Noel Whelan, 'A modest proposal to solve Campile mystery', July 22 2006, Irish Times
Patrick J Cummins, "Emergency" Air Accidents - South-East Ireland 1940 - 1945, 2003
Irish National Archives, Dept. of the Taioseach online file index search.
The next events occurred on Friday, December 20, 1940. The first began after 7 PM when residents of Dun Laoghaire, in south Dublin, claimed to have seen flares in the sky followed promptly by bombs falling and exploding. More fell moments later near Sandycove Railway station. Three people were injured during this. Not much later, two bombs fell on Shantouagh town-land, near to Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan. December 20th and 21st had seen Liverpool targeted by the Luftwaffe and it may have been aircraft from these raids, which would have flown up over the Irish Sea, that became lost and then dropped their bomb-loads over Ireland.(3) Throughout the 1940 - 1941 period, it appears that Irish Army Authorities frequently plotted aircraft flying deep within Irish airspace. Protests over these flights were made to the Belligerent countries by Irish officials.
The next series of incidents occurred over the first three nights
of New Year 1941. (5) On the 1st of January, 8 bombs
fell on Duleek and Julianstown, Co. Meath. There were no injuries
from either of these incidents.
That morning, after 6am, 2nd January, 2 bombs destroyed several houses in Terenure, in south Dublin. Again, there were no fatalities but 7 people were injured. Three more bombs falling on Ballymurrin, County Wexford caused no damage or injuries. Again that same night, 2 bombs fell on waste ground in Fortfield Road, Dublin caused no more injuries but some damage to property. High Explosive (HE) and incendiary bombs fell on the Curragh Racecourse outside of Dublin and more weapons fell in County Wicklow. This night ended sadly however with the death of 3 family members in a house in Knockroe, near Borris in County Carlow. Sisters, Mary Ellen (40) and Bridgid (38) Shannon, along with their niece Kathleen Shannon (16) lost their lives when one of a stick of eight bombs destroyed part of the house in Knockroe.
The incidents continued in the early hours of 3 January, when 20 people were injured and two houses destroyed in the in the Donore Terrace area on the South Circular Road.
This archive content report from Dublin City Archives has a small naritive which explains the incident somewhat and lists their holdings on the issue.
It was following this series of events that suspicion arose in some circles that the bombings might have been deliberate action by one or more of the belligerents in an attempt to draw Ireland into the war. They occurred after a curious incident prior to the New Year when the German Legation requested that extra staff be allowed to join them by flying into Rinneanna. The Irish government refused and the question was put to rest. Others believed that they were captured German weapons dropped from British aircraft again in an attempt to force Ireland into the war. This idea was fueled in recent weeks by German Propaganda radio broadcasts, which suggested that the British might try something such as this.
John P Duggan is his book neutral Ireland and the Third Reich makes mention of weapons dropped in 'Malin' in Donegal. There is an archvies reference but I'm unable to determine what their refers to. During a visit to the Inishowen in April 2007 a local man who served in the LDF at the time did point out in passing a location near Glengad head where bombs had been dropped in a field. An event that I must do a bit of searching on.
The most infamous incident occurred on the early morning of
Saturday, May 31st. The people of Dublin were preparing for the
bank holiday weekend. Just after 12pm, Army search lights went
into operation. There had been many reports that night of
aircraft over-flying the eastern seaboard as well as reports of
explosions out to sea, a sign of crews abandoning their
bomb-loads. About half an hour later, guns of the Anti-aircraft
battalion opening fired on aircraft above the city, as was
normal standing practice with unidentified aircraft 'presenting
a reasonable target'.
At 1.30 am, the first bombs dropped on North Richmond Street and Rutland Place.
Another bomb fell near the Dog pond pumping station in the Phoenix Park. This bomb damaged some of the Dublin Zoo buildings but caused no injuries among staff or animals there. Also damaged by this bomb, were the windows of Aras an Uactarain, the residence of the Irish President Douglas Hyde.
Next, at 2.05am the most horrific of all events happened. What turned out to be a German 'Land Mine' landed on the North Strand Road between the 'Five Lamps' and Newcommen Bridge. As was experienced by hundreds in London, and more recently in Belfast, this weapon ripped apart this part of the city and left the area in ruins. As the stunned Emergency services set about their onerous task of searching for survivors, LDF and LSF forces cordoned off the area. Mobile Units of St. Johns Ambulance hurried to the scene and provided significant help. First aid was administered and the more seriously injured transferred to local hospitals such as the Mater. Civil Defence services were also heavily involved including the Auxiliary Fire Service, Rescue service and Casualty Service. In the aftermath of the incident the death toll stood at 29*, with 90 injured and 300 houses destroyed or damaged. Almost 400 people were left permanently or temporarily homeless.
The names of those killed as dertermined by a review of the national newspapers May 31st to June 6th 1941 and from headstones where found. Dublin City Council Provide access to the 1939 - 1940 Electoral register at the following link which allows for better cross checking of the names.
|-||Name||Age (Est)||Relation||Resident at||Buried, Date||Headstone Inscription||1939-1940 Electoral register|
|1||Mary Browne||75||Mother of Harry Browne||24 North Strand Road||Edenderry June 4th||
her son Harry
and his wife Mollie
& their children
Maureen and Edward
Angela died 31 May 1941
also Ann and Baby Mangan
erected by her daughter
|I've assumed that she is not listed and that her daughter in law is.|
|2||Harry Browne, papers name him Henry||-||Son of;||24 North Strand Road||Edenderry June 4th||No. 25 Harry Brown|
|3||Mary Browne (Nee Corrigan)||33||Wife of;||24 North Strand Road||Edenderry June 4th||No. 25 Mary Brown|
|4||Maureen Browne||7||Daughter of;||24 North Strand Road||Edenderry June 4th||N/A Under 21|
|5||Ann Browne||5||Sister of;||24 North Strand Road||Edenderry June 4th||N/A Under 21|
|6||Edward Browne||3.5||Brother of;||24 North Strand Road||Edenderry June 4th||N/A Under 21|
|7||Angela Browne||2||Sister of;||24 North Strand Road||Edenderry June 4th||N/A Under 21|
|8||Richard Fitzpatrick||60||Husband Of Ellen||28 North Strand Road||Glasnevin, June 4th|| The Fitzpatrick Family headstone reads:
28 Nth Strand Road
In memory of his beloved wife
Who died 9th December 1913
Aged 34 years
Sacred heart of Jesus have mercy on her soul
and the above named
Also his Wife Ellen
and his daughter Margerate
and his son Noel
who died 31st May 1941
|No. 28 Richard Fitzpatrick, he and his family can be found living at this address in the 1911 Census where Richard Senior is listed as being a Victualler.|
|9||Ellen Fitzpatrick||55||Wife of Richard||28 North Strand Road||Glasnevin, June 4th||No. 28 Ellen Fitzpatrick|
|10||Margerate Fitzpatrick, also named Madge in newspapers||36||Daughter of Richard||28 North Strand Road||Glasnevin, June 4th||No. 28 Margerate Fitzpatrick|
|11||Noel Fitzpatrick||32||Son of Richard||28 North Strand Road||Glasnevin, June 4th||No. 28 Noel Fitzpatrick|
|12||John Murray||54||-||154 North Strand Road||Glasnevin, June 4th||There is no headstone on this grave only a stone or concrete cross. Glasnevin records show that this plot also holds his wife, Kathleen, died 1918 and two young children. An infant daughter died 1910 and a male child died 1915.||No. 154 John Murray|
|13||Mrs. Marion Holton||60||-||156 North Strand Road (162 ?)||Glasnevin, June 4th||There is no headstone for Mary A Holton on this grave but there is for her husband James J, who died in 1932.||Not listed at this address|
|14||Charles Sweeney||61||-||11 North Strand Road||Dean's Grange, 4th June||Not visited||No. 11 Charles Sweeney|
|15||Mrs. Mary (Ellen) Boyle||-||-||157 North Strand Road||Dean's Grange, 4th June||Not visited||Not listed for this address|
|16||Mr John Foran||-||-||155 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||
Died 21st November 1972
John and Mary Foran
died 31st May 1941
her son Joseph
Died 22nd Oct 1983
her husband Richard
Died 2nd November 1986
|No. 155 John Foran|
|17||Mrs Mary Foran||-||-||155 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||No. 155 Mary Foran, also a Mary Foran (Jun)|
|18||Alice Fitzpatrick||32||Mother of Micheal and Desmond||156 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||
MY DEAR WIFE & CHILDREN
AGED 32 YEARS
DESMOND, AGED 5 YEARS
MICHAEL, AGED 6 WEEKS
WHO WERE KILLED BY BOMB EXPLOSION
ON NORTH STRAND.
|No. 156 Alice Fitzpatrick, also John Fitzpatrick|
|19||Micheal Fitzpatrick||2 months||Son of Alice||156 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||N/A Under 21|
|20||Desmond Fitzpatrick||5 yrs||Son of Alice||156 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||N/A Under 21|
|21||Mrs Josephine Fagan||33||Daughter of T Carroll||157 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||The is no marker on the plot in which Josephine and Thomas are buried. Records show an Arthur Fagan was buried in that plot in 1966 also.||Not at this address|
|22||Thomas Carroll||60||Father of J Fagan||157 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||No. 50 Thomas Carroll ?|
|23||Patrick Callely||-||-||162 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||
My Dear Husband
Died 31st May 1941.
Also my dear Mother
Died 24th Jan 1940
Died 9th Feb 1946.
|No. 162 Patrick Callely, also Mary Callely|
|24||Elizabeth Daly||50||-||162 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||Her plot has no headstone.||Perhaps No. 49 ?|
|25||Annie Malone||79||Died on the 14 June, coroners report includes her in the dead for the bombing.||43 Summerhill Parade||Unknown||To be determined||-|
|26||William McLoughlin||2||Son of Patrick McLoughlin, below. Died when the house the family had escaped to was damaged by the third bomb.||41 Summerhill Road, Died at 157 NSR||Public Funeral 5th June||His plot has no headstone.||N/A Under 21|
|27||Patrick McLoughlin||-||Father of William||41 Summerhill Road at 157 NSR||P. McLoughlins remains were not found up to June 9.||Newspaper reports from August 1941 mention that thecoroners report assumed that remains found were those of P. McLoughlan.||Not at this address|
|28||Lily Behan||21||-||72 Shelmalier Road, East Wall||Died of injuries 22 August 1941||To be determined||N/A Under 21, but Christina and Thomas Behan listed.|
|||Newspapers on June 5 mentioned two unknown people from 162 NSR but clearly are in error as no mention is made in the coroners report.||-||-||162 North Strand Road||Public Funeral 5th June||To be determined||-|
"Members of the Dáil desire to be directly associated with the expression of sympathy already tendered by the Government on behalf of the nation to the great number of  our citizens who have been so cruelly bereaved by the recent bombing. Although a complete survey has not yet been possible, the latest report which I have received is that 27 persons were killed outright or subsequently died; 45 were wounded or received other serious bodily injury and are still in hospital; 25 houses were completely destroyed and 300 so damaged as to be unfit for habitation, leaving many hundreds of our people homeless. It has been for all our citizens an occasion of profound sorrow in which the members of this House have fully shared. (Members rose in their places.) The Dáil will also desire to be associated with the expression of sincere thanks which has gone out from the Government and from our whole community to the several voluntary organisations the devoted exertions of whose members helped to confine the extent of the disaster and have mitigated the sufferings of those affected by it. As I have already informed the public, a protest has been made to the German Government. The Dáil will not expect me, at the moment, to say more on this head." - Dáil Éireann Volume 83 05 June, 1941
|The grave of the Brown Family, taken January 2009. The Brown family now rest in the peaceful cemetery at Drumcooley, outside of Edenderry town. The simple inscription belies the tragic events that took their lives. For the casual observer it is clear that something terrible occured on that date to take the lives of so many from one family.||The Grave of Richard Fitzpatrick and family in Glasnevin Cemetery.||The grave of Mr. and Mrs. Foran in Glasnevin Cemetery.|
|The grave of Alice Fitzpatrick and her children in Glasnevin Cemetery. This is the only headstone to mention the bombings.||The grave of P. Callely in Glasnevin Cemetery.||-|
Those people made homeless or otherwise effected by the bombing were to be looked after by Government aid and also by the generosity of other people.
Click here to veiw a collection of photos presented by the Dublin City Council, dublinheritage.ie site. These photos demonstrate vividly the extensive damage that was caused by only a very small amount of ordnance. This heritage report from Dublin City Council explains the contents of the photos and the reasons for their been taken.
A plaque to commemorate the victims of the North Strand Bombing was unveiled at Charleville Mall Public Library on the 60th anniversary, 31 May 2001. Here are some pictures I took at the memorial garden in June 2007 and November 2008. Since I took my first pictures in 2007 the inscription text has been repainted and this is presented below.
|The Memorial Garden on North Strand Road near Newcomen Bridge beside the VEC. June 2007||The lamp post at the Five Lamps Corner. June 2007||The inside of the Memorial Garden, June 2007||The inscribed Memorial Stone inside the garden. November 2008||The inscribed Memorial Stone inside the garden, a close up of the text. November 2008|
IN MEMORY OF ALL WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE BOMBING OF THE NORTH STRAND ON MAY 31ST 1941
THIS MEMORIAL WAS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY.
UNVEILED ON 31ST MAY 1991 BY THE LORD MAYOR, ALDERMAN MICHAELL DONNELLY.
I was once put to task regarding the number of fatalities for the night of May 31st 1941. As one reads different books and articles, one can almost be forgiven for being confused. Below are various totals from various sources.
In the same period as the above attacks occurred, Great Britain was under heavy air attack from the German Luftwaffe. As a means of putting the Irish casualties into some context I here provide some figures for casualties suffered in Britain from German bomber attacks. As can be seen, during this period, the human suffering in Britain was immense. In May 1941 alone, 5394 people were killed. Six of the months shown returned casualties of over 4000. I present these figures for two reasons, firstly, to preempt any claims that I am trying to over play Irish casualties. While the quantity of Irish casualties is much smaller, the losses were equally saddening in that the people involved were not at war with those who carried out the raids, accidental though they were. A second reason is to give perhaps some indication of what might have happened in Dublin had a full scale bombing raid been launched upon it. With the city as poorly defended as Belfast, casualties would have most likely been horrendous in the densely packed inner city areas, much like that found in the North Strand.