It has been seventy-five years since the North Strand Bombings and since my great granddad passed away. Between the night of 31 May 1941 and the morning of 1 June, four bombs fell on Dublin. The first struck the junction of the North Circular Road and North Richmond Street. Minutes later a second fell on Summerhill Parade, while the third fell on the Phoenix Park, causing all the windows in Arás an Uachtaráin to shatter. At roughly 2.05am the fourth and most destructive fell on the North Strand, leaving a crater at least eight feet deep.
My great aunt Rosie, who was around forty at the time of the bombings, resided along with her father (my great granddad) at number 1 Aldborough Avenue, which was damaged by the explosion. A photograph of the damage done to numbers 1 (Rosie’s) to 5 can be found here on the Dublin City Library and Archive website. Rosie’s sister Jenny lived on Aldborough Place where the roof of her two story house collapsed on top of them.
Rosie was in bed when the bomb hit, and she was blown from the bed by the explosion. She recalled how the whistling of the bomb sounded in her head for ages afterwards. She once told me,
There was total confusion about what had happened, but once we knew it was a bomb, it was generally presumed to be the Germans.
The North Strand area was bombed on the Saturday of the Whit weekend, and Jenny’s and Rosie’s father died from shock the following Monday. Number 1 Aldborough Avenue was one of the houses declared unfit to live in. Rosie and Jenny temporarily went to live with their aunt Dianne on Seville Terrace. Eventually the family moved to Kimmage and were later transferred to the new suburb of Cabra.
I interviewed Rosie about the North Strand Bombings for my special project for Leaving Certificate History in 2000. She passed away three years later. I regret that I never interviewed her again in greater detail. On the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary, I’m reminded again of the importance of capturing living memory before it’s too late.