Records of the Donore Area Bombing January 1941

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The first bombing of neutral Ireland by German aircraft during the Second World War occurred on 26 August 1940, when bombs destroyed a creamery at Campile, Co. Wexford, killing three people.

On the first three days of January 1941, German bombs were dropped at a number of locations along the east coast of Ireland, including counties Carlow, Kildare, Louth, Meath, Wexford and Wicklow, but without any loss of life. On successive nights, 2 and 3 January 1941, German bombs were dropped for the first time on Dublin City in the Donore area, around the South Circular Road and in Terenure, districts where many Jewish families resided. The reason offered by Hitler’s government for the January bombings, as for the Campile bombing, was that German aircraft had mistaken the Irish east coast for the west coast of Britain. The view most commonly held in Ireland was that these particular German bombings resulted from aircraft off-loading supplies to ensure a safe return to base.

Dublin was shocked by the Donore bombings, the first to be sustained by the city during the Second World War, which was known in Ireland as The Emergency. Dublin Corporation immediately activated a plan for structural repairs to damaged property in Donore and later administered the Ireland government’s scheme of compensation under the Neutrality (War Damage to Property) Act, 1941. These files, which are preserved in the Dublin City Archives, describe the process of repair, reconstruction and compensation and give a vivid picture of the shock and distress suffered by the people of Donore.

File No. 1: Donore Area Bombing: Air Raid Precaution Reports

File containing reports from Horace O’Rourke, Dublin City Architect, to P.J. Hernon, Dublin City Manager, outlining air raid precautions, reporting on progress in clearing bomb damage in the vicinity of Donore, and advising on precautions to be taken in case of future bomb attack on the city.

October 1940 - February 1941 includes:

  • Report dated 7 October 1940 describing progress in provision of Air Raid Precaution measures. Describes the need for “structural first-aid” in the event of bomb damage to Dublin and outlines a scheme for putting this in place
  • Report dated 9 January 1941 (incorrectly dated 1940) relating to appointment of area contractors for bomb repair damage in Rialto and Rathdown Park
  • Report dated 17 January 1941 setting out the necessity for a special Repair Branch to be set up, in case of further bombing attacks on Dublin
  • Report dated 23 January 1941 estimating cost of repairs to bomb-damaged property in Donore at £250,000
  • Report dated 31 January 1941 describing progress of work in bomb-damaged areas to date
  • Report dated 2 February 1941 setting out proposals for repair service to respond to future bomb attacks on Dublin

File No. 2: Donore Area Bombing: Structural Repair/Demolition

File containing reports on measures taken to repair property damaged in bombing of Donore area, submitted to Dublin City Manager P.J. Hernon by Dublin City Architect Horace O’Rourke; also letters from individuals who have lost property in the bombing, seeking compensation.

December 1940 - May 1942 includes:

  • Report dated 21 December 1940 to City Manager from C.W. Chesson, area warden Dun Laoghaire, on Test Mobilisation held the previous day
  • Memorandum dated 23 December 1940 to City Manager from Major H. Comerford, Chief Superintendent, Dublin Fire Brigade: re emergency mobilization arrangements for regular fire brigade and Auxiliary Fire Service in case of bomb attacks
  • Preliminary report, dated 2 January 1941, to City Manager from Chief Air Raid Precaution Warden R.S. Lawrie, on bombing early that morning in the vicinity of Rathdown Park, Terenure
  • Report dated 2 January 1941 to City Manager from Chief Superintendent, Dublin Fire Brigade, on bombing incident Terenure-Kimmage area early that morning
  • Memorandum of meeting between City Manager and heads of Corporation A.R.P. Service, Sean Moylan, Parliamentary Secretary for Air Raid Precaution and Major S. O’Sullivan
  • Report dated 3 January 1941 to City Manager from Chief A.R.P. Warden, R.S. Lawrie on bombing early that morning at St. Kevin’s Park and South Circular Road, near Griffith Barracks, at 3.50 a.m.
  • Report dated 6 January 1941 to City Manager from City Architect stating that “the whole procedure for both damaged areas is now on a proper basis”
  • Letter dated 8 January 1941 to City Architect from Master Builders’ Association, 28 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, laying down rates of pay in relation of demolition and reconstruction work in bomb damaged areas
  • Report dated 10 January 1941 to City Manager from City Architect: update on progress in bomb damage repair
  • Report dated 17 January 1941 to City Manager from City Architect outlining steps to be taken in the event of future bomb attacks on Dublin
  • Letter dated 25 January 1941 from City Manager to J. Hurson, Secretary to Department of Local Government and Public Health, outlining progress in repairs to Rathdown Park and Donore Terrace area
  • Memorandum dated January 1941 from Department of Local Government and Public Health, detailing arrangements authorized re damage to property arising out of dropping of bombs or similar acts, such as explosion of sea mines
  • Draft memorandum, dated 31 January 1941 to City Manager from City Architect (manuscript) summarizing progress to date in effecting bomb repairs
  • Names and addresses of persons made homeless by Donore Avenue bombing, and the addresses where they have been accommodated on a temporary basis stating basis for same (i.e. friends/relations/paid lodgings)
  • Memorandum from A. Grimston, Area Warden, detailing evacuation in Rathdown Park area following bombing on morning of 2 January 1941
  • Text of statement on the Donore bombing delivered by City Manager to City Council meeting, 3 February 1941
  • Report dated 5 February 1941 to City Manager from City Architect setting out proposals for response system to be put in place for future bomb attacks, and pressing for decision
  • Report dated 17 February 1941, to City Manager from City Architect: progress to date
  • Precis dated 18 February 1941, outlining operations re bomb damage repair scheme, Rialto and Rathdown Park areas
  • Memorandum dated 19 February 1941: complaints from tenants in Fairbrothers’ Fields re damage sustained by their houses in recent bomb attack on South Circular Road
  • Letters from individuals who have sustained bomb damage, seeking compensation, February-June 1941
  • Memorandum dated 24 June 1941 to City Manager from City Architect: “the heavy task of almost complete reinstatement repairs of property in this area is approaching completion and 796 claims dealt with”
  • Memorandum dated 12 August 1941 to City Manager from City Architect re compensation requested from religious congregations in bombed area

File No. 3: Donore Area Bombing: Reports on Damage to Property

File containing reports from assessors and surveyors appointed by Dublin Corporation to examine bomb damage in Donore area

January - July 1941includes:

  • List dated 3 February 1941 of bomb damage repairs needed in Rialto area, giving address, occupier, nature of damage and state of work (2 pages out of original 3)
  • Reports dated February 1941 to Dublin Corporation from surveyors appointed to examine damage to property in Rialto and Rathdown Park; with reports dated 22 February-21 June 1941 from Dublin Corporation to the Department of Local Government and Public Health on progress of repairs to property
  • Reports dated 8 January–11 July 1941 to Dublin Corporation from William Montgomery & Son, assessors, 24 Suffolk Street, appointed as surveyors to examine damage to property in Donore Terrace and South Circular Road: including address, owner, type of dwelling, damage to furniture and effects, and estimated loss

File No. 4: Donore Area Bombing: Claims for Compensation

File of correspondence with claimants for compensation under the Neutrality (War Damage to Property) Act, 1941 in relation to Donore bombing. Apart from individual householders, major properties claimed for included the National Boxing Stadium; Greenmount and Boyne Linen Company, Harold’s Cross; Hospice for the Dying, Harold’s Cross; Presbyterian Church, Donore Terrace; Synagogue, South Circular Road; Wills’ Tobacco Factory, South Circular Road; St. Catherine’s Rectory, South Circular Road; White Swan Laundry, South Circular Road.

March - December 1941 includes:

  • List of persons whose property was damaged in bombing incidents of 2-3 January 1941
  • Correspondence with claimants for compensation, 12 March - 17 June 1941
  • Report dated 18 June 1941 to City Accountant from Dublin Corporation Housing and Supplies Section relating to damage caused to Corporation houses by barrage balloons put up by the Irish army
  • Correspondence with claimants for compensation, 21 July - 19 December 1941

File No. 5: Donore Area Bombing: Assessors’ Fees

File of correspondence between quantity surveyors and assessors engaged by Dublin Corporation to report on bomb damage in the Donore area and Corporation officials, including City Architect Horace O’Rourke, and Chief A.R.P. Warden R.S. Lawrie. Includes accounts presented and submissions from the Chartered Surveyors’ Institution (Ireland Branch).
12 May 1941-10 September 1942 includes:

  • Schedule dated 6 August 1941 of claims for compensation submitted in connection with bomb-damaged premises at Rathdown Park; Rathdown Villas; Fortfield Road; Fergus Road; Lavarna Grove; Lavarna Road; Rathfarnham Road; Parnell Road; Harold’s Cross Road; Bushy Park Road; Zion Road; Kimmage Road; and Templeogue Road


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