‘That’s the Way it was
Interviewed in 2021
John Mulligan is a retired Superintendent in An Garda Síóchána. In this piece of audio, John reflects on the aftermath of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings in May 1974, which he personally experienced while on duty with An Garda Síochána.
JOHN O’BRIEN (INTERVIEWER): And in the days following the 17th of May, John, you obviously got a chance to view the scene, you know, on Talbot Street and Parnell Street and maybe on Nassau Street as well. What’s your recollection of that, you know, that particular period or how much do you remember of that?
JOHN MULLIGAN: I remember it very well because, again, as a motorcyclist I was on duty as a motorcyclist, but I was used more than anything else for relief. So we would’ve had quite a few guys going down preserving the scenes in Parnell Street and Talbot Street, and I would’ve been sent down to do relief for them to enable them to go for meals and that. So I’m looking at the picture just above your left shoulder there and it was pretty much like that when I went down. There was just rubble everywhere, bits of cars, bits of all kinds of things around there, you know, and you had detectives and you had various other people trying to glean what they could from the ground, from the scene itself, and trying to interview people if they could, anybody who might be passing or who worked nearby or whatever, you know.
MR. O’BRIEN: Yeah, yeah, it was, and it remains of course, 34 people were killed. That’s 33 adults and an unborn baby. Baby Doherty was killed between That’s 34 between Dublin and Monaghan, yeah. Because obviously during the course of one’s career you go through an awful lot of different stuff and a lot of traumatic incidents, John. Can you ever remember having any particular recollections in your own head in your private time regarding, you know, what you had seen, extraordinary scenes in the Richmond and in the city morgue and all of that kind of loss of life and the dreadful circumstances, did it ever enter your mind afterwards or maybe put it another way, what were you aware of after the event?
MR. MULLIGAN: Well, you know, to my own mind I was fine. You know, it was a dreadful event and it had I was shocked of course, I was shocked, you know, but I didn’t think that I was that bad, but my beloved wife informed me that it had quite a shock on me, quite an effect on me, in that I had nightmares and would have been Her description of me was that it was like I was a walking ghost for quite a while afterwards. It really did have an impact.
MR. O’BRIEN: And I suppose we know, John, in terms of my experience, your experience in the guards, it was unlikely that anybody came to you from a Garda organisation, a senior, and had any kind of a therapeutic chat with you or so on. Now, I’m assuming I know the answer, but maybe you can confirm or otherwise for me?
MR. MULLIGAN: No, there wasn’t, no. Having said that, you know, I would have been working with some very good sergeants and they would have been people who would care. But, no, we all kind of just got on with it. That was the way it was. You know, that’s the job.