While Ireland was of course neutral during World War II, childhood memories for those growing up in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area were undoubtedly still impacted by this huge historical event. Some of the darkest aspects of what the Irish government called ‘The Emergency’ were seen through the rose-tinted glasses of youthful innocence. Collecting your gas mask from Dalkey Town Hall and playing with it on the walk home was an exciting novelty, and the Air Raid Shelters scattered around the County made for the best makeshift playgrounds. Certain foods such as flour were rationed, leading to what was by all accounts, a very unpleasant ‘Black Bread’. Childhood naivety aside, the sense of danger generated by bombings in Dublin, still created palpable anxiety in the local community here.
“There was a lot of fear at the time, and there were those bomb
shelters, and you’d be run with your parents to the nearest bomb shelter. Only once I remember doing that as a child.” – Leopardstown Park Day Centre Member
“There was an Air Raid Shelter down in Devitt Villas. And I remember going up, we went up to Dalkey Town Hall for our (gas) mask, you know? And we had to go up and get the mask and we’d have it on our shoulders. And like, it was just an ordinary thing, you know?” – Beaufort Day Care Centre Member
“I don’t remember the war that much because I was born in 1938, but I remember the big excitement when the white bread came out after the war.” – Leopardstown Park Day Centre Member
Left: ‘Beehive bomb shelter in the grounds of Cabinteely House. One of a few constructed there. Associated with Irish Defence Forces planning around the period 1939-1945. The classical version was an air-raid shelter designed to protect up to 6 people from the blast of a 500 pound bomb.’ Photo courtesy of South Dublin County Libraries: Joe Walsh Collection