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

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.


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

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:

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  • Inigo Unsworth

    To think that my blog has excited comment after 4 months does interest me and thank you for that.

    Your words prompt me to reread what Mr de Fossard wrote in the first place and it was remiss of me not to respond to his queries – which I will attempt to do belatedly.

    The people who perpetrated this tragedy were part of the UVF-the Ulster Volunteer Force and it was alleged that rogue elements of the British forces colluded with them. It resulted in the worst peacetime bombing in the Republic of Ireland with 34 people killed and some 300 wounded; no body has ever been convicted for this crime.

    Sadly, because the Irish, Northern Irish and British governments would rather forget about this terrible episode as there are undoubtedly skeletons rattling in the proverbial closet, no official fund of any real substance has been made available to the families and victims of those who suffered on 17 May 1974 – some of whom suffer to this day.

  • Ricardo

    I for one quite agree with Monsiur de Fossard – anecdotal history has numerous advantages, not least exploited by the likes of Beevor & Schama, when educating the masses about history so that we are not condemned to repeat it.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Nicholas, I am glad that you are pleased by the response to your blog. I think that it has been very interesting, and I hope that you will blog more. I have emailed Pete Hoskin myself and asked him to make your contributions more accessible.

  • Nicholas Mackey

    It is five days now since my blog first appeared and even today, Sunday it has drawn comment. I find this continued interest amazing. Moreover, what has struck me about this new and exciting means of expression, i.e. blogging – new for me as I am of a certain age and until about a week ago I thought the blogosphere was an arcane element of the study of astrophysics or a distant galaxy in a ‘Doctor Who’ adventure dreamt up by young and nimble-brained exponents of science or philosophy more in tune with the zeitgeist than I, but I digress. Nevertheless, I have been truly struck by the variety of reaction, depth of feeling and knowledge articulated by all those contributing. Despite some misgivings that I harboured beforehand, it seems as if this has touched on a (delicate) cord affecting us all as human beings nonetheless. In that way, I am sincerely grateful to all those who have taken the trouble to respond to something I have written.

    This actually has been a painful odyssey of healing over many years. Painful in two ways. First, on a personal level, I have revisited some very upsetting memories of nearly 40 years ago in attempting to discuss this subject and issues arising in a constructive, reflective and open manner. Also, I am sure there are many others who have experienced far worse during ‘The Troubles’ but I would hope that our collective contributions to this particular stream of discussion have demonstrated a nuanced awareness of this personal perspective on pain associated with historical memory. And secondly, it has been a very painful journey at another level in that it has been a long-standing saga of woe over centuries literally when Anglo-Irish relations has been the subject of conversation. The Queen’s successful sojourn in Ireland has ‘moved mountains’ in enabling this process of healing between our two nations to come to a successful and happy ending. From what I can gather, Ireland has been ‘wowed’ by her visit. It has also been a very emotional experience for many Irish people as my sister (resident just outside Dublin) avers and it has meant a great deal to Ireland.

    If I may hazard an opinion here, it is the finely-focused and personal perception of the intertwined history of our two islands – rather than an objective interpretation of how events have unfolded – as this is what often prompts our reactions to these thorny issues, myself included. It’s almost as if I were admitting that there are different ‘histories’ at play here, such as, ‘personal history’ and then ‘academic history’ at one remove. But I digress, again.

    I am buoyed up, however, by this invigorating exchange of ideas which will, I believe enable us to draw life-affirming encouragement from all the above so as to act as an all-conquering counterbalance against the negativity that my original piece explored in some depth.

    To conclude then, the various comments to this blog made over the past five days have shown a depth of wisdom and experience of all those contributing – some of whom have described their own unhappy events associated with ‘The Troubles’ with understandable feeling and how it affected each personally. Nevertheless, there is a pivotal point that enables us as human beings to draw on this valuable reservoir of knowledge that we carry about in our heads all the time throughout our lives and then to utilise it in a positive and uplifting manner to triumph over the hatreds and the poisons of the past within the context of Anglo-Irish relations and to propel us with zest into a future that is collaborative and harmonious. Long live our two islands, Hibernia and Britannia.

    Now, as a proposed springboard ‘for something completely different’, did I tell you the story about when my father met the Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein in Trinity College Dublin? No, well it will have to wait till my next blog, I guess.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Surely the Troubles stopped because the IRA DID lose. After all the murder they achieved nothing except their eternal damnation and they were completely compromised by the intelligence agencies at every level.

    The Troubles stopped because the men at the top who ran the IRA, such as Adams and McGuinness, realised that things had changed they could be more powerful within democratic processes than outside them.

    Killing terrorists DID work and does work, along with other processes.

  • Kennybhoy

    Spectator on May 21st, 2011 10:03pm

    What can I say…?

    In it’s totality this is a strange mixture of the disinformed, the wrong headed and the truly insightful…

    “However no one should be allowed to claim that they suffered more than the other and that it was one side causing the troubles because it simply is not true. Collective guilt rests on the shoulders of us all.”

    “However” indeed…


  • Spectator

    If one was to believe everything AAE said you could form the opinion that it was only the IRA and allegedly the irish government’s fault for the troubles. However, all sides were to blame. The British government enouraged and armed the loyalist deaths squads to carry out attacks such Monaghan and Dublin. Loyalists were killing Catholics in the 60s when the IRA was pratically defunct. The British security services, military and police, allowed murders to occur including those of their own service men and women and of innocents to protect informers, they provided inteliigence and destroyed crucial evidence. The conflict impacted on both communities not just one, there were wrongs on all sides, there were autocities on all sides. However no one should be allowed to claim that they suffered more than the other and that it was one side causing the troubles because it simply is not true. Collective guilt rests on the shoulders of us all. Those who believe that killing “terrorists” will stop them need to realise that that simply doesnt work. The only way to resolve conflict is by dialogue. The troubles are testimony to that if notthing else.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Rory, I do agree entirely about the paradoxical loyalty of the loyalists who are not loyal to the crown at all, but again, use political and social tensions for their own ends.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Rory14, I don’t disagree with your account of the problem which Ulster resistance posed, but it was a fact that the various Dominions had already gained independence within the Commonwealth. It is also a fact that in 1979, within 63 years of the violence of the Easter Rising, the UK Government allowed a referendum in Scotland on devolution. It is inconceivable that the same would not have been allowed in Ireland. All that was required was a little patience, but those who want to seize THEIR moment of power and glory will rarely wait, even at the cost of other people’s blood.

  • Lenny Deans

    A very good blog Nickolas, as having lived through the troubles your account of the Dublin bombings brought back memories I have experienced myself in N.I. I just hope now we can resign them all to the history books, moreover it was great to see something positive coming out of the Queens visit.Furthermore, the nonattendance of Sinn Fein demonstrated how out of touch they are with main stream views in Ireland. Moreover, I just hope that the “dissidents” take note of the futility of their continued violence.

  • Rory14

    ‘and a new bill had been introduced in 1912 and was held up by the First World War.’

    Held up by the first world war? HA! More accurately: it was passed, signed into law by the King in 1912 but was stopped by Ulster loyalists who armed themselves with guns brought up from Germany and threatened war to stop it’s implementation. The British military, with backing of much of the elite in London, refused to put down the rebellion and enforce the law. Catholics in Ireland were well aware of the contrast in treament of the loyalists by the Army and government and how other rebellions or threatened rebellions had been treated in Irish history.

    Furthermore, it is somewhat ironic that the UVF brought the gun into politics on a popular scale and therefore allowed the entrance of the Irish volunteers onto the scene. Even though the Irish Volunters were treated much differently than the UVF by the authorities, the government could not make them disband completely without doing anything about the UVF. Thus, you got the vehicle by which Pearse was able to orchestrate a Rising.

    If the loyalists had been loyal to the King they supposedly loved so much, there would have been no Rising, no IRA, and no PIRA.

  • Rory14

    One could hardly blame the Irish of that period for being entirely skeptical of Britain allowing them any version of substantial home rule. The treaty terms were, or turned out to be, de facto independence and a huge leap forward from the niggardly Home Rule Law of 1912 or the 1920 act.

    Ireland’s aspirations for even self governance or independence were always suppressed, ignored, or delayed.

    Those, or at least the vast vast majority of those, who risked all to take on the Empire certainly believed that this was the only way to get their independence. Many of those on the anti-treaty side were men of honor and integrity who firmly believed accepting the treaty would keep them under effective British rule. This is not to defend some of the anti-treaty side from taking arms, but just an observation.

    If the Home Rule Act of 1912, which was passed and signed into law, had been allowed to go into effect there would have been no 1916, no Black and Tans, and De Valera would have remained an obscure mathematics teacher.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Rory14, a Home Rule bill had been passed twice in the 19th century, and a new bill had been introduced in 1912 and was held up by the First World War. It was clear that at some point Ireland would gain Home Rule.

    It was also clear that there was a process of democratisation taking place in the UK which extended the franchise in 1918 and then 1928.

    New Zealand became a Dominion within the Commonwealth in 1908, Eastern Canada in 1867, Australia in 1907. So there was absolutely and definitely a model for areas of the Empire becoming self-governing.

    Those who engaged in violence were always and are still working towards another more selfish end. There was no need for violence.

    Even with independence up to 4000 Irish were killed by other Irish in the Civil War. It was not about freedom, that would have come in due course, it was always about power.

  • Rory14

    ‘And is there any appreciation that Home Rule and even independence within the Commonwealth would surely have been offered the Irish in the 20th century?’

    In the 1921 no one had any idea the course of the British Empire would lay out. The Empire was at or at least seemed to be near the peak of it’s power after it’s nearest European rival had been defeated. There was no precedent for allowing integral parts of the Empire to become self governing let alone independent at that time-particularly one adjacent to England. That was one reason why many anti-treatyites were so against the treaty….they thought they would be bound to it’s terms for generations.

  • Mick Fealty


    Thank you for this. It’s interesting the difference a day and a human response makes to the tone of the comments here.

    I was a few years younger than you and much closer to the troubles… At the time, we had the Ulster Workers Strike and the various Loyalist and Republican organisations were fully into their orgy of abduction, brutal killing and bombing…

    It is a useful reminder to those of us who have almost forgotten just how random and terrible it was…

    Now blogged on Slugger, BTW…

  • Peter From Maidstone

    phoskin @

    Remove the spaces of course

  • Nicholas Mackey

    To Peter f/Maidstone

    What is Pete Hoskins’ email please?

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Inigo Unsworth are you Nicholas Mackey?

    If you are then ask Pete Hoskins to sort out adding your name to the top menu. Another day and this post will have disappeared into the void. If you wish to continue speaking to us and with us then you need to be easily found.

    I am sure you have Pete’s email.

  • Inigo Unsworth

    It is not often that I am effusive about political events but having just watched HE President McAleese and HM Queen Elizabeth II address those assembled at the state dinner at Dublin Castle in the manner which they did, I was moved by what I heard.
    We are all witnesses to a transformational and poignant moment in the history of these two islands.
    Just imagine the queen spoke in Irish – surely that’s a first?

    At a time like this, perhaps a quotation from St. Francis might be appropriate to complement the magnificent efforts of HM The Queen and HE Madam President:
    That where there is hatred I may bring love,
    That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,
    That where there is discord, I may bring harmony,
    That where there is error I may bring truth,
    That where there is doubt I may bring faith,
    That where there is despair I may bring hope,
    That where there are shadows I may bring light,
    That where there is sadness I may bring joy.

    As a novice blogger, I would like to become a regular contributor but would welcome advice on how to have my name added to the ‘top menu’ mentioned.

    Finally, as my first experience of this medium of communication, I am very appreciative of the comments that all contributors have made in response to what I had to say and also to my images shown. A Chairde, go raibh m

  • Kennybhoy

    AAE wrote:

    “Irish Republicanism seems more socio-pathology than noble aspiration and doesn’t need any further nurture.

    Very true. But then one might say the same for that devotion to the memory of the Ascendancy on annual noisy display throughout Ulster and indeed parts of the mainland.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Nicholas, are you going to be a regular blogger? If so it would be useful to get your name added to the top menu so that we can easily find your posts as this one is now disappearing off the front page into oblivion.

  • AAE

    commentator, thank you.
    Infantile is exactly the word. The unlearning, unteachable child allows neither life experience nor rational thought to make the smallest dent in its omniscient ego, and so with age and the encroachment on that ego by reality, its rage is unleashed in ever more pathological ways simply to avoid the pain that self-examination and its accompanying puncturing of the belief in its own perfection would bring.
    My aunt, who with her invalid sister and a brave RUC policewoman had to stay inside their house on Market Street Omagh, there being insufficient warning to get them out, whilst an IRA car bomb exploded outside, put it more simply and with characteristic gentleness saying, It’s just badness.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Nicholas, I look forward to further posts by you.

    I would be interested in your thoughts about how Irish tend to view their own history? Is it with a degree of self-critical reflection? Or has the historical narrative been hardened into an anti-English polemic?

    I am especially interested in how the Irish view the civil war in 1922-23. How does that modify any ‘blame the English for everything’ approach? And is there any appreciation that Home Rule and even independence within the Commonwealth would surely have been offered the Irish in the 20th century?

  • commentator

    Mike Cummings’ post is the typical bile-ridden and infantile abdication of responsibility that permeates too much of Irish Republicanism. In particular, that abdication involves airbrushing from the pages of Irish history unprovoked atrocities against innocents such as (to name but a few) Greysteel, the Lamon House, the Guildford and Birmingham pub bombings, Harrods, the Brighton Bomb and Omagh.

  • Nicholas Mackey

    To Peter from Maidstone
    I have read The Spectator since childhood but am a complete ‘newbie’ when it comes to the activity of blogging.

    As someone with an Anglo-Irish background, I would hope to explore themes affecting both our islands where open, lively discussion would be encouraged while touching on controversial questions from time to time but perhaps leavened with a sense of humour where appropriate. And always with a view to critically reviewing received ideas to enable more informed discussion about subjects of importance to people in Ireland and Britain.

    Let me briefly touch on one area that always surprises me: as I have lived in both Ireland and England for many years, for countries so close in terms of geographical proximity and the longstanding historical & economic ties, I am constantly struck by the diverging narratives both countries possess of each other.

    In answer to your final query, I am that person whose biography you have quoted. It looks like it came from the web site of Trinity College Dublin where a lecture series was organised recently in memory of my late father, W.E. Mackey formerly Research Librarian at TCD.

  • Mike Cummings

    As I follow some of these comments it was OK for England to give a green light to its security services to prepare and deliver these bombs to a neighboring country to be detonated by loyalist lackeys. It was an act of war. Shouldn’t they be proud of how they defended their country with this undeclared act; no warning bombs aimed at defenseless shoppers at the height of shopping? In fact this was the last straw for many: internment,Ballymurphy, Bloody Sunday, and now Dublin/Monaghan. If these acts were committed in Finchley instead of Fermanagh every red-bloodied Englishman would be in arms. And so it was with the IRA.

  • AAE

    Nicholas, thank you for coming back with that.
    You and I are both among the lucky, and reading how a day in Dublin in 1974 still haunts you and knowing that all my feelings on The Troubles are checked only by the merest hair trigger, then what on earth is it like for those thousands of families who lost loved ones for nothing more than a bloody hatred, and who silently carry on as best they can, hurt even further by the deaths of some being politically iconified?
    I was very admiring of the decorum with which the Irish President received The Queen yesterday and while the wreath laying at both cemetries for the Fallen is simply a natural courtesy, I can’t see that the visit to Croke Park is anything more than a propagandistic discourtesy to The Queen. Irish Republicanism seems more socio-pathology than noble aspiration and doesn’t need any further nurture. In N. Ireland, we have some of those pathologists in government, men guilty of horrific crimes are walking the streets, so isn’t time the Irish Prime Minister displayed some restraint and understanding as part of his hundred thousand welcomes?

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Nicholas Mackey, I appreciated the photos, especially with your own personal involvement, and your recollection of the

    May I ask, as a long-ish term resident of this website, what your background is, in relation to blogging on the Spectator site and what perspective you hope to bring to the readership here? Would you consider yourself left-ish or right-ish for instance? (c/C)onservative or (l/L)iberal?

    Are you this Nicholas?

    Mr Nicholas Mackey (principal sponsor of the this lecture series) was born in Dublin and read Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, which he represented in fencing and became chairman of the University Photographic Association. On graduating in 1978, he worked overseas in a variety of roles, as teacher, film director, photojournalist, radio & TV broadcaster plus a stint as a ‘stringer’ for The Times and BBC in the 1980s and 1990s while living in the Middle East. During this time, he also wrote Everything You Wanted To Know About Capitalism But Were Afraid To Ask designed for the newly-emerging Russian market. He also established an Anglo-Romanian joint venture in Bucharest. Currently, Nicholas is involved several business ventures and maintains his interest in photography.

  • Nicholas Mackey

    I’d like to thank all those who have kindly taken the trouble to comment on what I had contributed to this, my first blog.

    The point has been raised as to the purpose in writing about this subject and to showing the pictures I took 37 years ago. A perfectly reasonable remark and if I were reading this I too would wonder. I shall attempt to describe my reasons but please bear with me as I can detect some pain lurking in the shadows as I summon up these memories.

    In the early 1970s as a young Dubliner, one was aware of but largely unaffected by ‘The Troubles’ experienced in full measure by its sister capital, Belfast in Northern Ireland, a little over 100 miles away. Yes, there had been politically-motivated incidents in Dublin previously resulting in a number of deaths but living in the South one had been largely shielded from the worst of the social and terrorist violence of the North.

    The shocking events of 17 May 1974, however, changed all that. It was a terrifying experience for our family as by a strange coincidence, my (late) father who worked elsewhere in the University was attending a lecture on campus very close by in the Moyne Institute.

    You will recall from my original article that after the sound of the explosion I had grabbed my camera and headed towards a side gate in the perimeter wall of Trinity that was open. As I ran towards it I was shocked to see my father standing there motionless with a grim expression on his face. As chaos reigned just yards away on South Leinster Street, I recall us having this bizarre conversation as he told me that several of those attending the lecture he had been present at near to where the bomb had detonated had been blown out of their seats injuring a number plus some others had been badly cut by flying glass. Fortunately, my father was unhurt. People passed between us at this narrow gateway hurrying to and fro as we both surveyed this scene of destruction. I remember my father saying: “It’s like Belfast now. The North has come south”. He then warned me that there might be another unexploded device waiting to go off nearby but with the bravado of youth I ignored his plea of commonsense. The next thing I remember was being on the street, camera in hand, surrounded by the carnage caused by a bomb (hidden in the boot of a car) that had exploded without warning a short distance away. It was blown to smithereens. Later, we learnt that this obliterated vehicle had been hijacked in the North earlier the same day. As I write these words, I find myself reliving these awful events in surreal shades of grainy grey and black where the sounds, the smells and the fear are palpable all over again.

    But I’ll come back to the premise that triggered this addition to my ‘blog’: why did I write this? How long do you have? But the shorter response would be that growing up as I did in Dublin in the 1970s, one’s life was punctuated by the regular news bulletins of events in Northern Ireland as there was a near daily toll of brutality, shootings, arrests and, of course, bombings brought about to my young mind at the time by political intransigence borne of centuries of tribalism and well-nursed hatreds of the past. It seemed as if this vortex of violence in the North, the dreaded ‘Troubles’ would never end and now Dublin was being sucked into this destructive whirlwind.

    Fast forward to April 1998 and the Good Friday Agreement. This was a landmark moment in Northern Irish Affairs which enabled the two opposing blocs of the North to live more peaceably together. And over the ensuing 13 years, the political landscape of Northern Ireland has evolved to what it is today thanks to what was done by so many ready to work hard to overturn the bloody construct of the recent past that had taken on a semblance of brutish normality. Life in the North has been transformed for the better where the dark days of the 1970s were being consigned to history.

    And now, HM Queen Elizabeth II is on a ground-breaking visit to the Irish Republic that, in a way, helps to set the seal on this Good Friday Agreement thereby achieving, among other things, a major step forward in Anglo-Irish affairs and, as an Irishman, I am delighted to see this occur in my lifetime. Ireland and Britain can now look forward to an even stronger and warmer relationship where the future – not the past – can be embraced with renewed optimism. It is right to recognise this most positive development as historic.

    Like the overwhelming majority of people in these neighbouring islands of ours, I never want to see a return to the bleak, death-laden events of the past that my brief story and pictures evince momentarily.

  • AAE

    Peter From M. – Interesting as always.
    Tom Pride – It would be good to move on, and it was a nice change to hear two Irish historians on RTE yesterday saying how apologies serve no good purpose, but needless to say there are those who can’t resist rubbing salt in the wounds.
    The Queen’s wreath laying yesterday was widely taken as a step into a new mature relationship, today, hours into this new relationship, Enda Kenny is, we’re told, going to add government weight to Gerry Adams’ protest by asking David Cameron for the UK Security Service records relating to the above mentioned Dublin bombs. Didn’t the Christian Brothers teach them the one about the mote and the beam?
    Which reminds me of the one about the Irishman asking for a job on a building site, and the foreman says, You can have the job if you can tell me what the difference is between a girder and a joist. And the Irishman says, Ah now, that’s easy! Girder wrote Faust, and Joist wrote Ulysses!! Boom Boom!

  • Tom Pride

    Occasional Ostrich
    May 17th, 2011 11:47pm

    A hard observation but one not without the grain of truth. The death and injury of the innocents going about their daily business, the suffering of their families and the justifiable outrage at the inhumanity of the attack, has limited discussion. It is a highly delicate subject requiring sensitive handling but attacks on trophy / landmark buildings, with or without loss of life, for maximum impact and worldwide publicity was a strategy successfully developed by the IRA and financed by NORAID US dollars (supported / not unequivocally condemned by certain Congress persons and whishy washy Administrations) and carried out with Libyan provided explosives.

    Terrorism – the deliberate targeting of civilians for political aims – is always wrong irrespective of one’s sympathy for those aims. Otherwise it’s sowing and reaping with the innocent, as always, paying the price.

    It is time to forgive and move on but a little humility and a little less sanctimonious humbug from all parties would help.

    The UK is not the only country with a Colonial history or with episodes to be ashamed of. General Jake “Howling” Smith – “kill everyone over the age of ten” was not an Englishman; nor was it a crowd of Englishmen who spat on and pelted the Volunteers with rubbish as they were led away in Easter 1916.

    All nations have events they would rather forget. Accept that, then we can stop the history blame game and move forward as the friends we should be.

  • commentator

    Paraphrasing Inigo Unsworth, you come back to the ugly self-pity underlying too much of Irish Nationalism: It’s all the fault of the Brits and There are no Sorrows like unto our Sorrows. Only a matter of time before the nationalist myth-making machine starts telling us that the collapse of the Irish economy was the fault of Cromwell, the Black and Tans and the Parachute Regiment…..rather than the corrupt and often authoritarian oligarchy which has run the Irish Republic since independence.

  • Occasional Ostrich

    Peter From Maidstone

    Excellent post.

  • Owen Morgan

    The single salient fact that “Inigo Unsworth” needs to bear in mind is that he is an ignoramus.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    The Irish invaded and settled many parts of the West of Britain. Indeed they settled Scotland in large numbers, fought against the native Picts, and ended up giving their name to the whole country.

    If the Irish petty kings had not been so busy trying to gain local and personal advantage they would not have fought WITH the Vikings and then WITH the Normans against fellow Irish. They might then have stood a chance of being a proper country. But rather like Wales they were never able to become one nation because of internicene bickering and conflict.

    The Normans took over all of England. Those of us with ancient English roots, (most of us), have been as much oppressed as the Irish. We have starved, and been made to fight in wars, and been treated as slaves as well. It is the universal lot of most ordinary people for most of history. Yet it seems only the Scots and some Irish make a career out of a victim mentality.

    When the Irish did gain independence what was the first thing they did? Start a bloody civil war in which more Irish were killed by other Irish than had ever been the case for hundreds of years. Indeed brothers killed brothers.

    It was never about freedom, it was always about power. It is still about power. That is what the IRA/Sinn Fein is all about. That is what all of the conflict in Ireland has been about.

    Ireland would certainly have gained Home Rule after the first world war and could have been an independent nation within the commonwealth, as Canada or New Zealand. But there are always those who are willing to pay the price of other people’s blood for their own desire for power.

  • AAE

    Inigo, with your apparent love of history, could you just remind us how St. Patrick himself was first taken to Ireland?

  • escapedRoger

    The ’74 bombings show that if the American government had’t leant on the UK to go soft on the provos with a ‘policing’ strategy instead of crushing them militarily the troubles could have been ended sooner. The sordid hand of the USA hovers over the whole island.

  • Occasional Ostrich

    Is it considered out of order to suggest that the IRA’s (let’s not have any illusions about where NORAID’s funds ended up) biggest fundraisers, until a particular date in history, had thought that terrorism was just a game, with negative effects that only happened to “other people”. What stopped their flow of cash to the IRA?

    Well, laydees an’ gennlemen, today, for one day only (we hope), we present an object lesson in the reality of meddling in politics about which you know nothing. Yes, in bright living technicolor and gory detail, we give you-uuu:


  • Inigo Unsworth

    Could we establish an unarguable, objective fact that needs to be acknowledged – the notorious elephant in the room, so to speak – simply put, Ireland was occupied and dominated by Britain for centuries; Irish forces never invaded British soil in anger and forced Britons to submit to celtic ways. Period.

  • 2trueblue

    Being Irish I fail to see the point of this article. Having lived in the UK for over 40yrs. I feared each day for my family and husband whilst the IRA carried out their bombings in London, and the UK. What interest this incident to those of us who are ashamed of the legacy of bombings? As one woman interviewed today in Dublin stated, the UK has a large Irish population who live here and do not share the ideals of anarchist.

  • Craig Strachan

    As a Unionist I am frankly embarrassed by some of the ignorant, graceless comments on here – on this day of all days.

    The Dublin/Monaghan bombings were a terrible crime, claimed by the UVF, which cannot for a moment be excused by reference to other such crimes.

    I would like to thank Mr Mackey for sharing his memories and pictures of that day. And I hope we’ll never see another day like it in Ireland or in Britain.

  • AAE

    MylesNaGopoleen, perhaps, with all your inside knowledge, you could let us know the names of all those Irish politicians who helped the IRA, well we already know about Prime Minister Haughey of course, and perhaps also you could help us understand why the Irish Government was always very much more agitated by the British Army or members of the RUC crossing the border in pursuit of IRA terrorists than it was embarrassed by acting as a safe house for the IRA, and why did so very many IRA terrorists escape trial in the UK because extradition orders were deemed void by the Gardai when those terrorists, suddenly wanting their names to be written in Gaelic, found that the RUC had misplaced an accent or some other triviality? I only ask, because in common with evil vile terrorists throughout the ages, Irish Republicans proclaim themselves forever the innocent victims whilst ignoring the by far greater carnage carried out by themselves against Protestant and Catholic alike. And for the record, the Republic of Ireland, N. Ireland and the rest of the UK would be a better place if all murderers, Republican and Loyalist, were in prison.
    Apologies from the Brits are not met with any reciprocal shame, but only feed the the Republican fiction.

  • MI

    Fair point re narrative history, so I hope that someone who lived in Birmingham (or one of many other places, it’s just where I grew up) at a similar time, and who was in a similar position at the time of a bomsing, might be given the same space to publish something.

  • MylesNaGopoleen

    the Dublin bombing was carried out by the UVF, with the assistance of MI5

  • AAE

    Fred de F.
    Well, I wonder why The Spectator is today running one story from 40 years of mayhem, but with no context. Except there is a context today with this story. It coincides with a demonstration led by Gerry Adams today seeking ‘justice’ for those murdered by these Dublin and Monaghan bombs planted by Ulster Loyalists.
    If justice was being served, then Adams wouldn’t be wandering the streets today, and if justice (legal, natural and moral) had been served in 1974 when Adams was the big cheese of the IRA in Belfast, hundreds wouldn’t have suffered needless death.

  • Frederick de Fossard

    Does this need a point, AAE? I, for one, quite enjoy anecdotal history, and I found this small article interesting, especially knowing the story behind the photographs – well, the story of the photographer. I don’t know a huge amount about The Troubles, I definitely didn’t know that Dublin was targeted in such a way.

    Was this a Republican attack or UDA one? Hope that isn’t a silly question, it just sounds astoundingly stupid for Republicans to bomb the Republic.

  • AAE

    And has this experience or the subsequent 37 years of wondering come to anything?
    I don’t see any particular point to this article, but for those who want to spend half-an-hour scrolling through photos of the results of Irish terrorism, you can find about 600 hundred of them here (scroll down the page and click on ‘In Pictures: The Troubles’:

  • Common Sense

    Aye, The Dublin government was aiding the IRA in its campaign of murder and bombing in Ulster. Perhaps this outrage helped persuade them to cease.