X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

When Dublin trembled

17 May 2011

6:00 PM

17 May 2011

6:00 PM

On 17 May 1974 — 37 years ago today — I was a 19-year-old student at Trinity College Dublin, celebrating the end of term in the Pavilion Bar near the sports fields. The summer exams
were still to come, but we were carefree; the main subject of conversation was whether we could organise a disco party later on. Then, a little after 5.30 p.m., everything changed. First, all about
us seemed to shiver, as if there were an earth tremor. Then, just as it occurred to me that Dublin did not generally suffer tectonic stress, there was a deafening bang that seemed to go on for an
age.

Somebody shouted: ‘It’s a fucking bomb!’

What I did next may seem strange, but I was an avid photographer, used to recording the world around me, and I took my camera almost everywhere in a little canvas bag. It was with me that day. I
grabbed it and dashed out, heading straight for South Leinster Street, the source of the ear-splitting noise.

I passed through a side gate and found myself taking picture after picture of a street full of destruction: people running to and fro past large glassless gaps in shops and offices. Now there was a
strange billowing sound interspersed with crackling noises. I took a few more steps before I saw where it was coming from: a red sports car, ablaze and giving off pungent smoke and waves of
piercing heat. My eyes watered and I found it hard to breathe. The street was covered in debris. Around me were people with fear etched on their faces. Some had cuts and clothing torn away; one
teenage boy’s forehead was caked in blood.

[Alt-Text]


Suddenly, from my right, two men in shirt-sleeves advanced with confident strides on a burning corpse, with a large white sheet or towel held in front of them. They quickly doused the flames. With
the fire out, the men stood back and stared at the lifeless victim they had just rendered assistance to. One of the men had his knees slightly bent and made a hurried sign of the cross — and,
as he did so, I saw his lips move as if in prayer, but I could not make out a single word of what was being said. I wondered momentarily if my hearing had been affected.

I took several paces forward and observed that the dead person was scorched black by being so close to what I surmised to be the epicentre of the explosion. There was no blood visible and I could
just make out that the victim was female on account of her badly-singed shoes with heels beside her lifeless feet on the pavement. I felt compelled to look away as I felt my insides lurch
sickeningly.

Eventually, after what seemed a long time, the emergency services arrived. On South Leinster Street, two women had been killed instantly and many injured. Elsewhere in Dublin and Monaghan, some 33
other people were killed and almost 300 wounded: this day saw the largest number of casualties in any single day of "The Troubles".

I still wonder about this awful experience now even after 37 years and I have an inkling of what it must be like for those who have experienced. You can see one of my photographs at the top of this
post, and selection of others below:

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close