Interviewed in 2021
John Mulligan is a retired Superintendent in An Garda Síóchána. In this piece of audio, he remembers the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings of 17th May 1974. He recalls being charged with taking a body to the morgue and also recalls being handed a plastic bag full of shrapnel, which had been removed from the body. It turned out to have been a man called O’Brien who were passing by a car when the bomb inside the car detonated.
John Mulligan: But shortly after that, a surgeon emerged from one of the theatres, one of the rooms, and he came over to me and he said, ‘There’s a body here, this man is dead, we can do no more for him, can somebody take responsibility for him and get him down to the morgue.’ So I did that, I took charge. He handed a plastic bag or a couple of plastic bags full of shrapnel and he said to me ‘This man had so much stuff in him, he must have been right in the car’, he said, ‘he must have been one of the bombers.’ And tragically it was not, it was actually the father of a family. As you reminded me, O’Brien was the name. Husband and wife and two children were passing by, going to spend a nice afternoon in a nearby park, and as they were passing they were right next to the bomb when it went off … Anyway, I brought the remains down to the morgue. The old city morgue, you and I would be familiar with it. You had fairly big rooms as they seemed at the time and there was the slabs where the autopsies would be carried out, but the place was full, it was bodies on the floor, it was a scene of terrible carnage. When I went in, a couple of members stand out for me. I won’t mention names because it might not be fair to them. Well, one has passed away in the meantime. But they were moving the bodies around. Some were covered, most were not, and it was a frightening scene, it really was a dreadful scene inside there. Okay, it was the place where all this is done, but it just was so full of so many bodies at the time.
NOTE: The man referred to was John O’Brien, a twenty-four-year-old father of two. He along with his wife Anna O’Brien (22), daughter, Jacqueline (17 months) and Anne-Marie (5 months), were all killed in the Parnell Street explosion. They had lived just around the corner in Gardiner Street but were originally from Finglas. John worked in Palm Grove, the ice-cream factory. Anna’s father could only identify his son in law John from a tattoo on his arm that read ‘Anna and Johnny’. He was unable to recognize his own daughter.