Bombing of Ireland During The Emergency

Printer-friendly version

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 excuse 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 the German bombings resulted from aircraft off-loading supplies to ensure a safe return to base.

On the night of 15-16 April 1941, the Dublin Fire Brigade was sent to Belfast on the personal instruction of Taoiseach Eamon de Valera, to assist in the aftermath of German bombing of that city. The Daily Telegraph reported: “A wave of gratitude for Ireland’s errand of mercy has swept the city of Belfast overnight, establishing a bond of sympathy between North and South Ireland which no British or Irish statesman has been able to establish in a generation.”

On the night of 31 May 1941, four high-explosive bombs were dropped by German aircraft on the North Strand area of Dublin City. The casualties were many: 34 dead and 90 injured, with 300 houses damaged or destroyed. This bombing was interpreted as a deliberate ploy by Hitler’s government to force neutral Ireland into the war or as a reprisal for the assistance given to Belfast during the Blitz, but if so, the attempt failed. On 19 June 1941, the Irish government announced that the German government had expressed regret for the North Strand bombing and promised compensation. The North Strand bombings were the last to occur in Ireland during the Second World War.

For more information

Dublin City Archives, 138 -144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01 674 4999. Email: