Car bombs

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 1 (Jan/Feb 2009), Letters, Volume 17

1Sir,

—I was disappointed that your review of Car Bomber (‘TV Eye’, HI 16.5, Sept./Oct. 2008), while well informed, missed out on the fact that an actual car bomb was used in Ireland in the 1920s, and so the scene in Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins was not so far-fetched. During the Civil War, on 18 August 1922, a fuel delivery lorry was packed with explosives and set off at the corner of Earl Street and Francis Street in Dundalk. The anti-Treaty IRA had set off the bomb to stop the Free State army who were marching on Dundalk barracks, which had been taken over by anti-Treaty forces under Frank Aiken on 14 August. Luckily there were only two casualties. James McEvoy, on his way to work, was killed and T. A. Connolly, a local vet, was wounded by a stray bullet. Windows in the area were smashed and nearby buildings were damaged. The car bomb failed to save Aiken and his men, who were forced out of Dundalk by the Free State army. Car bombs were not used again until the Northern Troubles. The town was hit again by a car bomb on 19 December 1975, when a Loyalist no-warning bomb went off in Crowe Street. Two men, Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters, were killed and others injured. Widespread damage was caused to surrounding buildings. A report on the 1922 lorry bomb recently appeared in the Dundalk Democrat. So, like it or not, the IRA did invent the car bomb and it became their trademark weapon.

—Yours etc.,
B. McKEVITT
Carlingford
Co. Louth

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