Categories 1941

Dublin bombed by the Luftwaffe

Dublin bomb damage
Photograph illustrating some of the damage caused by the German bombing of the North Strand, 1941.
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: 28 dead and 90 injured, with 300 houses damaged or destroyed. Charleville Mall Public Library was designated as the headquarters for the bombed area and City Architect Horace O’Rourke was in charge of the clearance project.
This particular photograph is one of 57 in the North Strand Bombing collection housed in the Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.

One of a series of images of the raid available from Dublin City Council.

At 2am in the morning of 31st May, Dublin, capital of neutral Ireland was bombed by the Luftwaffe. It was the most serious incident in a string of accidental bombings to hit Ireland during the war, probably attributable to navigational errors. Such errors may have resulted with British interference with the Luftwaffe navigational beams – but the British did not have the capacity to direct the beams on to a new target, only to interfere with them.

The Irish Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, made a statement to the Irish Parliament summarising the incident:

Members of the Dáil desire to be directly associated with the expression of sympathy already tendered by the Government on behalf of the nation to the great number of our citizens who have been so cruelly bereaved by the recent bombing. Although a complete survey has not yet been possible, the latest report which I have received is that 27 persons were killed outright or subsequently died; 45 were wounded or received other serious bodily injury and are still in hospital; 25 houses were completely destroyed and 300 so damaged as to be unfit for habitation, leaving many hundreds of our people homeless.

It has been for all our citizens an occasion of profound sorrow in which the members of this House have fully shared. (Members rose in their places.) The Dáil will also desire to be associated with the expression of sincere thanks which has gone out from the Government and from our whole community to the several voluntary organisations the devoted exertions of whose members helped to confine the extent of the disaster and have mitigated the sufferings of those affected by it. As I have already informed the public, a protest has been made to the German Government. The Dáil will not expect me, at the moment, to say more on this head.

4 thoughts on “Dublin bombed by the Luftwaffe”

  1. The raid did not keep de Valera from going to the German Embassy in Dublin to sign the condolence book for Hitler when he died in Berlin – a probably very revealing act.

  2. I lived at 5 Ballybough Rd at the time of the bombing and was about 7 years old. My mother awoke me saying “Jimmy get up, the Gerrys are overhead” While dressing me in the front room Mom returned to the bedroom to find more clothing and I followed her back into the bedroom where my elder brother Francis was still there getting dressed. Just then our entire front window was blown in and glass was scattered everywhere. We quickly retreated to under the stairway and joined other tenants who were in shock as their higher location exposed them to a more direct blast. After several hours my brother and I worked our way up to the bridge on the North Strand and could observe the destruction and fires down towards the Five Lamps. We were finally chased away and returned home. It’s a night I still vividly remember. Departed Dublin for England in January 1946; returned to Dublin in Sept 1948 and emigrated to the USA in April 1950. Now getting close to 80 years young. In 1954 I was inducted into the US Army and served 18 1/2 months in Germany (Got to Dublin twice). Honorably discharge from the Army in March 1962 after completing my 8 year military obligation, rank SFC. Completed High School while in Germany and entered University under the Korean GI Bill and graduated with a BBA Degree from PACE University in New York in 1960. Married in 1962 to a girl from Donegal, and blessed with 6 children and 13 grandchildren. God has been good to us. Hope to return to Ireland this Fall or sometime 2015. Always nice to see the changes in Dublin upon returning.

  3. the bombings were a warning to ireland to stay out of the war because the irish government sent aid to belfast and many british refugees arrived every day at connolly rail station which is a couple of hundred yards from north strand road! PS de Valera was president NOT taoiseach

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