Interviewed on 19 April 2021
In this piece of audio, recorded with former Garda Matt Givens on 19th April 2021, Matt recalls his personal experience of being on duty in Dublin on 17 May 1974, the day of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The Dublin and Monaghan bombings were a series of co-ordinated bombings by Loyalist paramilitaries in counties Dublin and Monaghan that killed thirty-three civilians and an unborn child. The Loyalist UVF claimed responsibility for the bombings in 1993. Here, Matt reflects on the effect of that experience.
MR. GIVENS (Interviewee): And then there was people everywhere, Guards coming, ambulances coming. I went Martin Murphy was my Section Sergeant and Martin Murphy came on the scene and he sent me in the first ambulance to Jervis Street with the first body, actually, and ehm, brought down to I was the first Guard in Jervis Street with the first casualty and I was given the job of helping to set up the temporary morgue and as the bodies were coming in, to try and identify, and the people come in, they were trying to identify them. Again, it was mayhem. But my abiding memory of Jervis Street was that there was a pregnant lady brought in who was dead, and a lady doctor did a caesarean on her there in the middle of the floor in a room where we were setting up to try and save the child and the child was also dead. I can remember that lady doctor’s face the same as if it was yesterday, you know the way some things stick in your mind. So, like, you know, that was it then and there was all the trouble of trying to trying to concentrate on anyway, I was due to, that was on the 17th May and I got married the end of June that year. And I can safely say … That there is no I never slept, I never slept a wink, definitely, from the 17th May until the end of June. How we kept going, I don’t know.
MR. O’BRIEN (Interviewer): I was wondering were you aware that other bombs had gone off in the city while you were in Jervis Street?
MR. GIVENS: Yes, I had, I had, I had, and we were, we had heard the other like, the bombs went off, I would say, the other bombs went off while we were on the way down. I can’t remember if Talbot Street was the first bomb but I think it was. But the one over on the south side, over in the B, that went off, I think, as we were going down. One of the other ones went off as we came running down Talbot Street. And the other one in Parnell Street, I can’t really, I can’t really remember. I just another thing that strikes, I remember there was a bus strike. There was a bus strike, and, ehm, we were conscious that a lot of the people that we knew and friends, you know, were out and about, were finishing work. I remember Margaret, who we were due to get married, I knew she worked in Hawkins House, she worked in the Department of Education in Hawkins House and she would have been walking home, she was living on the South Circular and I remember not being able, like, nobody had phones that time or, you know, you rang the phone in the flat, which was on the do you know. But I remember making contact with her later in the night. But anyway, I remember going through the personal effects of the people in Jervis Street as they were brought in. I remember coming, searching in the handbag and the coat of a girl who was brought in who was badly disfigured and you know that kind of burning effect that a bomb has on her face and that, and it turned out that I knew her. Now she was a friend of Margaret’s. She was a girl from Thurles, Breda Turner was her name, she was a champion dancer. But like, I remember getting a bit of a land, you know, when you hit on somebody that you know. But, like, I suppose looking back on it now, I remember we used to be going around on duty for the 12 months after that I was there when you would be on patrol or walking the beat or whatever, you would be looking over your shoulder, you would be looking at every number plate of every car. I suppose we were all badly traumatised at the time but we really didn’t know, we didn’t know what it was and the other one in Parnell Street, I can’t really, I can’t really remember. I just another thing that strikes, I remember there was a bus strike.