Dublin Bombings of 1974
This collection of 148 images of the aftermath of the Dublin bombings of May 1974 provides a valuable source of information on the tragedy. The material is of particular relevance to second-level students studying Northern Irish history and provides the basis for original research.
On the evening of May 17th 1974 Dublin city centre was rocked by three explosions. The first, at 5.28 pm, was in Parnell Street and resulted in the death of eleven people. The second explosion, which took place almost immediately after the first, was in Talbot Street. This blast killed fourteen people. The third explosion, in South Leinster Street, which occurred just after 5.30 pm, was responsible for the death of two more.
Just before 7.00pm that evening, there was a further explosion in Monaghan Town in which seven people were killed.
In addition to the lives lost, it has been estimated that up to 300 people were injured by the explosions, some of them disabled for life. No warnings were given of the bombings and no organisation claimed responsibility for them at the time. In 1993 the Ulster Volunteer Force claimed that it had carried out the attacks. Controversy still surrounds the possible involvement of other groups in the bombings and the way in which the original enquiry into the event was conducted.
Right: Scan the Qr Code to view Image Gallery on your phone.
In addition to the human tragedy brought about by the bombings, there was a great deal of physical damage done to the fabric of the city. On the day after the bombings, instructions were given to the Dublin Corporation official photographer to record the destruction in the areas around Parnell Street, Talbot Street and South Leinster Street. The photographer took over 200 photographs, of which 147 are shown here.
The photographs are a unique source that gives a vivid picture not just of the devastation caused by the attacks, but of the horror felt by Dubliners after the bombings and the dread that further bombings would take place. The bombings occurred against the background of deep civil unrest in Northern Ireland and at the time there were intense fears in the South that they heralded a spread of paramilitary activity to the Irish Republic. The image of a deserted Moore Street (No. 143) the market street normally packed with traders and shoppers on a Saturday, tells its own story.
The image gallery contains a number of pictures of the commemorative ceremonies held at memorials to the victims of the bombings. The photographs show memorials at Parnell Street, Cathal Brugha Street and Talbot Street. Those present at the ceremonies included Lord Mayors of Dublin, Dublin City Councillors and members of the Justice for the Forgotten Group.
In addition to the photographs, we also include a guide to further sources on the Dublin bombings, some available online and some through the Dublin City Libraries network. For further reading on the Dublin Bombings see the Library Catalogue.
The following resources are available free of charge at your local library. Ask staff for further information and assistance.
- Libraries and Archives Digital Repository: Digital records relating to Dublin, including photographs, postcards, letters, maps and ephemeral material. Highlights of the collection include the Fáilte Ireland Photographic Collection, Wide Street Commission Map Collection (1757-1851), the Irish Theatre Archive and the Birth of the Republic Collection, which comprises material from the period of the foundation of the Irish state.
- Irish Times Digital Archive: This archive service gives access to the coverage of the bombings. It is available free at your local library.
- Irish Newspaper Archives:This archive service gives access to articles on the bombings published in The Irish Independent and a range of other newspapers and is available free at your local library.
- The Ireland Collection-JSTOR is an online archive of academic articles which can be accessed free of charge at your local library. It includes a number of articles on the bombings.
The Reading Room, Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street, holds a Newspaper Cuttings file on the Dublin Monaghan Bombings. It also holds a wealth of material on life in Dublin at that time, including magazines, Street Directories, and ephemeral material. More information on the Reading Room.