Wreaths laid to commemorate victims of North Strand bombing

Survivors of second World War bombing recall ‘traumatic’ night of destruction

Wreaths were laid in north inner city Dublin on Monday during a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of the North Strand bombings, which killed 28 people during the second World War Two.

Scores more people were injured by four bombs dropped by the German Luftwaffe on Dublin, during the early hours of Saturday, May 31st, 1941.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, German ambassador Deike Potzel, and two survivors of the bombing each laid a wreath at a plaque in the North Strand commemorating the incident.

The ceremony involved a wreath laying at Marino College, followed by the launch onto the canal by Charleville Mall of 28 miniature sailboats, made by locals in the community, in memory of the 28 victims. Each boats bore the name of one of the deceased


May Dunne, who was seven years old at the time, was one of the survivors who attended the 80th anniversary.

She recalled that and her family had huddled down in the basement of their home after the bombing started. “The big bang came, my mother who was holding the baby was blown across the room,” she said. “Eventually people came to the rescue, my mother’s aunt lived in 15 North William Street, they came to see if we were alright.”

Afterwards they were put up in an emergency shelter run by the Red Cross for a number of days.

“I don’t know how long we stayed there, but eventually my mother said ‘I don’t care what’s happening, I’m going home’, so we came back to William Street, all boarded up, no heating, no light, no nothing, but we survived,” she said.

“It is something that you never, never forget. The most traumatic thing for me was, and I can still see it, to see my mother getting blown across the room with the baby in her arms.”

Ms Dunne said she was “so grateful” the anniversary of the bombing had been remembered and marked.

Seamus Stephenson (85) was five years old at the time and said he remembered "an enormous bang" waking him on the night. He recalled running outside his home with his older siblings and witnessing the destruction.

“You could see the flames and all that was going on … I don’t remember the scare, I think little fellas like that, you don’t realise what’s going on” he said.

Mick Rafferty, a community activist involved in the commemoration, said the bombing was a "horrific night" for the local area.

“Houses were blown apart and all the shops gone, it was horrific. Four families make up more than half of the casualties,” he said.

Even afterwards, many who lost their homes were “scattered to places at the time that seemed far flung”, like Cabra and Crumlin, he said.

Independent councillor Nial Ring said the four bombs "devastated" the North Strand area, leaving a "huge number" injured.

"Amidst the decade of commemorations this is one that could have been lost, but our historical society and Dublin City Council, we weren't going to let that happen," he said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times