Dublin Bombings of 1974

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Welcome Inn, Parnell StreetThis 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.

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.

Further Resources

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.

View the Image Collection.

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My Aunt was in the car being driven by a clothing factory owner they were about to deliver to Guineys. Just short of Guineys the car stalled and within a fraction of a second the bomb went off. If the car had not stalled they would surely have been killed.

Hi Trudy I was just wondering if you would like to be part of a podcast I am doing for my final year project which will be about the Dublin & Monaghan Bombings. I have 2 victim stories but need another one. Kind regards, Valerie

Hi where is this podcast available I’m doing my leaving cert history project on the 1974 Dublin bombings

Hi Lucy,
Hopefully Valerie will reply and let you know where you can obtain her podcast. In the meantime we have some which you might also be interested in:
The Air defence of Dublin and the North Strand Bombing - https://soundcloud.com/dublincitypubliclibrary/air-defence-of-dublin-and...
The Effects of War-Time Censorship on Historical Sources regarding the North Strand Bombing 1941 - https://soundcloud.com/dublincitypubliclibrary/the-effects-of-war-time-c...
The Other Bombings of Ireland: German bombings of Ireland 1940-41 - https://soundcloud.com/dublincitypubliclibrary/the-other-bombings-of-ire...

Good luck with the project!

Hi Lucy this is the YouTube link https://youtu.be/Is-K4wmIxtU and you can listen to it on Sound Clound https://soundcloud.com/valerie-oriordan/shattered-lives

my aunt was in dublin

Congratulations on making this wonderful archives available. It is much appreciated by the families of those who were killed.

If I might just make a small correction - there was no stillborn baby killed in Parnell Street. An entire family - a father, mother and two baby girls aged 17 months and five months respectively were killed there.
A woman who was nine months pregnant (Colette Doherty) was killed in Talbot Street and her baby (gender unknown) was recognised by the Dublin City Coroner as the 27th victim of the Dublin bombings at the Inquest held in April/May 2004.

The totals for each street are correct - 11 killed in Parnell Street, 14 including the full-term unborn baby in Talbot Street and two women in South Leinster Street.

Thank you.

Kind regards
Margaret Urwin
Justice for the Forgotten

Many thanks for the clarification and the additional information you have furnished. We have duly amended the text regarding the deaths resulting from the Parnell Street bombing. 

I was living in Rsthmines in May 1974, studying at UCD. My sister was visiting me and we wound up going to a film, Scarecrow with Al Pacino
We ge out of the China around half past six
It was like walking into a ghost town, no people, no cars, silence
We walked half way home before we found out what had happened

My granddad drove a St. John's Ambulance to the scene at Talbot Street that day, sirens blazing. He was never the same again.

Many thanks for the info.
My Dad was 8 feet away from the car bomb on Parnell Street. He owned Tyrells Butcher shop with him Mam. My Dad was fixing the meat in the window when the bomb went off. He described it as a very low swirling sound and then complete silence then a blast which flew him to the back of the shop and my Nana into the huge fridge. He had hundreds of pieces of glass in him including his eye. He told us that it was so crazy on the road that there were no room in any of the ambulances for him (although his eye was hanging out of his head) so he got a lift from a passer by to the hospital. My Mam was 6 months pregnant on me at that time. He was never the same man again. 1938-2012.

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