Interviewed on 19 April 2021
‘FIRST ON THE SCENE’
In this piece of audio, recorded with former Garda Matt Givens on 19th April 2021, Matt recalls his 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. Matt’s testimony provides a powerful human insight into the experience.
JOHN O’BRIEN (Interviewer): You were there, Matt, you were there, Matt, I think, in May of 1974 when the bombs went off in Dublin, were you? Or were you working that day?
MATT GIVENS: Indeed, I was, John, and very much so. I remember, I can remember it distinctly. I was on O’Connell Street for the first half of the tour. I was on 2 to 10 and I was due to go on a post, the GPO was a post at the time, it was six o’clock. So, therefore, I was, we’ll say, taking an early break and at the time, we used to eat in the sorting office, the post office sorting office in Sheriff Street. We had a kind of an arrangement there where the Guards would go there for the grub. It was a canteen nearly 24 hours a day. But I remember well that day, Joe Glennon was ‑‑ Joe who ended up, I think, in Details. He was Albert Reynolds’ driver. He was very much involved in Raphael’s Credit Union. Joe was on Talbot Street and as I walked up along, I was heading back to the station and on up to the sorting office for my grub, and Joe was standing at Guiney’s window with his backside up against Guiney’s window and his leg, you know the way you put one leg kind of back behind you on the window, I can still see him, and I said to him are you coming for the grub and he said: ‘Tis too early, I’m on a beat again after tea’. He said; ‘If I go now, it’ll make the evening very long.’ ‘Ara’, I said, ‘come on. Come on, I’ll be above on my own if we don’t’. So we headed off anyway and we went, walked up, straight up as far as Amiens Street Station and had just turned into Sheriff Street when the bomb went off behind us and, we’ll say, I suppose if Joe hadn’t come with me, he certainly would have been in the eye of the storm. He was right in the path of where the car went in the window. He was standing at that window. So we were back, we came running back down the street, the two of us, and when we arrived, Tom Madden, who was a traffic Sergeant in Store Street, in a little dinky, white Renault van, he had arrived at the scene, but other than that, we were the first two Guards there. And it was…
JOB: What did you see, Matt, what did you see?
MG: Oh, it was absolute mayhem, John. Absolute mayhem. There was people thrown everywhere. I remember the first woman I saw or went to was an old lady, she was lying in the middle of the street, we’ll say, outside Moran’s Hotel, as it was then, there is a different name on it now, and, eh, I could see that her leg was gone above the knee, one of her legs was gone above the knee and she kept saying to me: “Guard, look after the injured, I’m fine, I’m okay, look after the injured.”