Tuesday, March 11, 2014


There I was, strolling down a very full and vibrant Grafton Street early one Saturday evening recently, inhaling the exuberance of the shoppers bustling and the buskers performing as I went. There was hope of the early Spring that was sure to soon embrace us in the air, and contentment abounded. The only thoughts floating through my mind were the lovely scene unfolding before me and the anticipation of the girly theatre night out ahead.

But then a stray thought cut through the pleasantness....... 'What if something extraordinary were to occur and this sea of bustling shoppers and performing buskers had to immediately evacuate this lovely street? What then?'


Until I remembered that it had happened me once before. A long, long time ago, on a different shopping street.....

Back in the 1970's when I was a young girl, about my own son's age, Dublin City Centre was not all that safe to visit. This was due to the Monaghan/Dublin bombings on 17th May 1974. I was a safe 5 miles away, playing with a small group of pals on my street at the time. Sitting on the kerb, bouncing a ball, if I remember correctly; when we heard a very loud, yet strangely dull 'noise'. I ran home but it was to be a while before the horrific reason for this 'noise' was revealed.

For many years after that there were many bomb scares in Dublin city, many of which I was to experience when I grew up and gained employment in a Department office on O'Connell Street - Dublin's main thoroughfare. A Department that lost a valued member of staff on that fateful day in 1974, as had other Civil Service Departments. A lot of people lost their lives that day.

Of course at the time I was blissfully oblivious to the seriousness of the events, and on what was to come to pass in my working life.

As I got older my best friend and I developed a favourite Saturday afternoon treat. We would travel alone by bus into town. There we would window shop, on the far more affordable Henry Street. We would spend our meagre savings on a little top in Pennys (Primark in the UK - yes, it is around that long!!) and a cream cake from The Kylmore Bakery - that we would happily munch as we contentedly roamed around. Carefree as floating butterflies, not a worry in the world.....

One Saturday afternoon we were accompanied by my mother. In fact she probably accompanied us on a lot of these trips, especially the initial ones. I just remember the freedom of shopping on our own! When we reached Henry Street we went our separate ways; my mam into Dunnes Stores and my friend and I to get our traditional cream cake!

In time we calmly emerged from the shop with coveted cream cake in hand - and landed right into an ocean of bustling shoppers running for their lives. Straight at us!!

We were terrified. What to do? Swiftly turn around and join them was our obvious, immediate and uncommunicated response. Minding the cake as we ran, naturally. We could taste the fear and the panic as we ran, hard and fast. The street was entirely covered by people on the move. With the exception of one tiny pocket of space; containing a very worried mother, frantically looking for her daughter and friend. We two seamlessly became three and continued to flee.

The scariest thing of all was not knowing from what exactly we were fleeing.

We finally came to a stop on O'Connell Street, close to the historic G.P.O.  My mam and some women got talking; it transpired that someone had seen something in a clothing display in Dunnes Stores, shouted 'Bomb' and that had started the stampede. It turned out to have been a small fire.

We were very relieved but our shopping day was curtailed.

We strolled back to the bus stop, eating our comforting cakes as we went.

I'm  not so sure that much has changed in Dublin, and the world in general since then. The dangers may differ somewhat but they still exist. Especially as we afford our teenagers some latitude for travelling with friends to a local busy town, or shopping mall.

The message is clear though.

Stick with your friends ...... and mind the cake.



  1. Wow jazzy - what a fascinating memory
    Its amazing
    We grew up in the shadow of terrorism for sure but as kids we also took it for granted

  2. @Floortime Lite Mama: My memory recall can be appalling at times... so much of other peoples' crap tin my head!!.... this one came out of the blue! Yes, we tend to take it our strides don't we? Even as an adult I used to hang around during the bomb scares (no choice really) and watch the army send in the robot. I was fascinated by that!

    xx Jazzy

  3. Well coming from Belfast you can imagine that bomb scares were a daily occurrence! I do remember people used to stand at the cordons waiting for the 'package' to be exploded so they could get on with their shopping- unbelievable x

  4. Wow- that was something else! And I think your advice at the end is spot on. Always mind the cake!

  5. @mum in meltdown: I didn't know you where from Belfast! None of this is new to you so. Apart from that awful 1974 day Dublin only got a glimmer of what it was like living with this daily. I remember going to Belfast, years later, with a work ladies football team for an inter-country match (yeah, I played football....once!!) and was terrified!! For no reason really.

    @Shelly: Definitely, sage advice ;-)

    xx Jazzy

  6. My heart is in my mouth after reading that.... that must have been frightening, and you are so very right; that the most frightening part was not knowing what you were running away from, being swept along by a crowd - claustrophobic and scary. I don't know why they called it the troubles... it was a war... Great post. X

  7. @Older Mum: Yes, that was the terrifying part. That is so very true, it WAS a war. I guess it's the Irish tendency to play it down.. vocally. All the time knowing how serious it is. Thank you .

    xx Jazzy

  8. Gosh,how very scary. I was ta work at a big conference centre n Bournemouth when I was about 19 and we had the Conservative conference there and there was a bob alert and a small explosion and that was scary enough! Mich x

  9. A very frightening day, well recalled, and I can see exactly how it would add to your worries about letting teen boy out on his own xx

  10. @Michelle Twin Mum: That sounds very, very scary! They were scary times in Northern Ireland, UK and the Republic of Ireland.

    @Looking for Blue Sky: Thankfully he has no interest in going anywhere like that on his own. Yet!! I knew you'd get it ;-)

    xx Jazzy

  11. A few weeks ago there was a loud, and as you say, dull sort of non-echoing 'noise' at 2am. I knew instantly that it was some sort of explosion as I've heard bombs before. It turned out to have been a gas explosion in an apartment building about 5 miles away. I remembered when my mum heard the bomb on the Brent Cross flyover in 1992 (all the way from Stanmore - also about 5 miles). She was teaching and she said all the teachers old enough to have been children during WWll knew instantly that it was a bomb. It's such a surprisingly non-echoing sound. I don't think you ever forget it once you've heard it once.

  12. @Midlife Singlemum: I think you're right, it is quite distinctive. You must have experienced this quite a bit. We would wish that no-one ever had to.....

    xx Jazzy


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