The North Strand Bombing, 1941

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North Strand bombingDespite declaring neutrality when the conflict broke out in September 1939, Ireland came under aerial attack several times during the Second World War. Most of the incidents happened in 1940-41, while the Luftwaffe was attacking British cities and trying to degrade their air defences.

In August 1940, three people were killed by German bombs in Campile, County Wexford, while more fell in Sandycove, County Dublin in December of the same year. Three more people died in Carlow in January 1941, while Terenure and the South Circular road in Dublin were hit by single bombs on 2 and 3 January, which caused some damage but only minor injuries. On 2 June 1941, bombs were dropped on Arklow, again luckily without causing any deaths. Northern Ireland, part of the UK and therefore part of the war, suffered badly from air attack. Belfast was subjected to four full-scale air raids in April and May 1941, with approximately 1000 deaths, widespread damage and thousands made homeless.

On the night of 31 May 1941, several single German aircraft were spotted by the coast watching service over Dublin, which appeared to be circling the city and were apparently lost. Irish troops launched warning flares, which were ignored; subsequently, anti-aircraft guns opened fire on the planes, without hitting them. Shortly afterwards, three bombs fell in Ballybough, Summerhill and the Phoenix Park, destroying several houses and causing minor damage to Áras an Uachtaráin, without loss of life. A fourth bomb hit the North Strand area with devastating effect, killing 28 people, injuring 90 and destroying or damaging over 300 homes. Although initially denying any involvement, the German government eventually accepted responsibility and paid compensation to the victims after the war.

Complete records of the bombing itself and the aftermath are held by Dublin City Library and Archives. The collection consists of two full albums of photographs, damage reports, compensation claims, records of demolitions, repairs, arrangements made for inhabitants who were made homeless by the bombing as well as oral history accounts of eyewitnesses. It is available online.


Bernard Kelly, Historian in Residence, Dublin City Library and Archive.

Dublin City Council Historians in Residence are available to meet groups and schools, give talks, walks etc, run history book clubs and advise on historical research.


You also have very interesting files on the SCR bombing which Eoin Bairéad has written up in a monograph published by NUIM.
My maiden grand-aunts house & shop were damaged in that bombing.

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