© Dublin City Archives
In May 2008, Dublin City Library and Archive launched an exhibition about the North Strand Bombing based on sources at Dublin City Archives. These sources included the Henry McCrae Photographic Collection, with images of the aftermath of the bombing, City Council files relating to salvage operations and re-housing the homeless, contemporary newspaper collections and private collection sources. The
exhibition toured the 23 Library Branch network of Dublin Public Libraries. Many of the visitors to the exhibition spoke to library staff about their own memories of the bombing. This provided a catalyst for the North Strand Oral History Project, which was begun in 2009 to capture and record reminiscences of the
night and also stories passed on about the bombing from older relatives. The project was expanded in 2010, leading to a total of 15 individuals being interviewed.
In 2010, interviews were carried out by Marc Redmond, on behalf of Dublin City Archives, based
on guidelines drawn up by Senior Archivist, Ellen Murphy.
The interviewees included Mr. Noel Brady, who participated in the rescue efforts as a member of
St. John’s Ambulance Brigade. Noel remembers “I was worried … would I get weak from seeing blood?
(laughs). Once you got stuck in you weren’t thinking. The only thinking was, if there was bleeding, stop it. Get the patients out of the way to hospital, or to the first aid if they were only cuts and bruises, or short things like shock just bring them up to the church…” Kevin Mullan explained how life continued as
normal after the bombing. He in fact made his Holy Communion the following day, though he did visit his father (who worked for the Dangerous Buildings Section of Dublin Corporation) at the bomb site.
Also interviewed was Alfreda O’Brien, whose grandfather Francis O’Brien worked as the glimmer man for the Gas Company, and was known locally as “the Galloper” for his ability to quickly move from one part of Dublin to the next. Alfreda explained how Francis prevented a major explosion in the gas mains by setting fire to a small spill, but was falsely accused by the local Air Raid Protection officer of trying to signal to the Germans.
Skype was also used to interview Mike Connolly who had memories of the bombing and now lives in South Africa.
All of interviews (transcripts, recordings) which were carried out, along with photographs of participants were added to the North Strand Bombing Reminiscences Website, which can be accessed at: www.northstrandbombings.wordpress.com
© Dublin City Archives
The website, which was developed by Dublin Public Libraries Web Unit, also includes an online form where members of the public can add their own stories of the bombing—thus contributing to growing archive of material relating to North Strand Bombing. The website has proven to be extremely popular with over 9000 page views since its launch in May 2009.
Dublin City Archives organised a day-long seminar titled the “North Strand Bombing and The Emergency” as part of Bealtaine 2010. The aim of the seminar was to explore the events of night in question, and also to understand the wider context in which the bombing happened. A talk by Eoin Bairead focused on other bombings which happened in Ireland in the period 1940-194, such as Campile and Donore Bombings. Col. Donal O’Carroll spoke about how the Irish army was transformed during the period of Emergency, and he mentioned in particular the excellent morale among members of the armed forces. Joe Miller, Red Cross Historian, gave an illustrative talk on the activities of Irish Red Cross during the Emergency. This included setting up of Irish Red Cross Hospital in France, a drive to donate Irish potatoes to European refugees, and anti-TB and anti-spitting campaigns. Kevin O’Connor spoke about issue of censorship during the Emergency, and how it affected sources. He emphasised how interviews with survivors of the bombing had greatly influenced and assisted his own research. The final talk was by Dr. Michael Kennedy, who focused on the records of the coast guards from the 30-31 May 1941, and how these could be used to re-construct the flight paths of German planes. Unsurprisingly given the huge interest in the topic, the seminar was fully booked, and concluded with a lively debate between speakers and contributors from the floor.
The Lord Mayor Emer Costello then performed the official launch of the Oral History Project Part 2 and presented each participant with a copy of their interview on CD.
Lord Mayor Emer Costello with Noel Brady at the
launch of the North Strand Oral History Project Part 2.
All of the talks from the seminar have been recorded and transcribed, and will be available
to download at: www.northstrandbombing.wordpress.com in July 2010. Dublin City Archives has recently
assisted with research into the bombing for a TV3 documentary which will be broadcast in July 2010. The North Strand Bombing Exhibition continues to tour the branch network of Dublin Public Libraries and will be on display in Ringsend Library in July and Charleville Mall Library in August 2010.
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