The night a bomb fell in our back garden in Sandycove, Co Dublin

Family Fortunes: We were told to evacuate and set out for the train station . . . I was two years old and it seemed like a great adventure

Sandycove, Co Dublin, was bombed in 1940. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sandycove, Co Dublin, was bombed in 1940. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The air raid siren went off and my mother, my older brother and I went in under the stairs – our shelter. This was 1940 and World War II was having an impact in Ireland.

We didn’t live in Birmingham or Liverpool. We lived in Rosmeen Park, Sandycove, Co Dublin, and I was two years’ old.

A little while later, an Air Raid Patrol warden knocked on our front door and told us we had to evacuate as there was an unexploded bomb in our back garden.

We set out for Sandycove railway station, as directed, with our gas masks and Cheeky, our canary. We met our neighbours trooping down to the station. The idea was to take the next train south to get away from danger. It was dark and I was very young and it seemed like a great adventure. As we reached the station my father met us – he had been out on ARP duties – he told us the danger had passed and we should all return home.

Next morning, we saw the damage. An unexploded bomb had landed in the back gardens between Rosmeen Park and Rosmeen Gardens. Windows were blown in and my father’s pyjamas on the clothesline were ripped by flying debris! There was a huge hole in the back garden. A second bomb had fallen on the tram tracks at the end of the road, blowing the roof off the bungalow on the corner.

It was rumoured that the Germans were aiming for the Mail Boat in Dún Laoghaire Harbour and mistook a tram for the boat, another suggestion was that the Germans were off-loading the remnants of their lethal load before heading back to their base. Who knows the truth? Plenty of speculation.

We were very fortunate. No lives lost. The tragedy of the loss of life with the bombing of the North Strand was in a different realm altogether.

Sometimes I drive up the cul-de-sac with memories of my childhood playing with my friends – “pussy-four-corners”, “relieve-i-o” and “hopscotch”, learning to ride my fairy cycle and learning to skate. Until recently, when No 13 was redecorated, I could see the gable-end where the pebble-dashing had been damaged by flying debris that night 79 years ago.

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