The History Of The Five Lamps

The Five Lamps is a historical landmark that is situated at a junction between five streets in Dublin’s North Inner City. These streets are North Strand Road, Portland Row, Killarney Street, Amiens Street and Seville Place.The Five Lamps stands on an island at this junction. it is a  highly decorated lamp-post with five lanterns. The Five Lamps is an instantly recognisable monument for all Dubliners.

The Five Lamps was constructed in the late 19th century to commemorate General Henry Hall’s service to the British Army in India. It originally had water fountains with four basins at its base. The water spewed out from water spouts that were the shape of lions’ heads. Cups were hung from over the basins so that the locals could grab a drink. At this time the people would have had no running water in their homes. The fountain was also used as a water trough for horses to quench their thirst as well.

It is debated where the name of “five lamps” came from. Some people think it is called this because of the five streets that intersect at this point and others believe it is in memory of the five major battles that were fought in India in the British Empire Days.

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An old picture of The Five Lamps (Image:dublinforum.net)

On the night of Sunday May 31st 1941, the German Luftwaffe dropped four highly explosive bombs over the North Strand Road area killing approximately 30 people and injuring 90. Three hundred houses were also destroyed. It was unclear if this was a response to the Dublin Fire Bride aiding the people of Belfast during bombing raids or if it was a ploy to end Irish neutrality.

I spoke to John Byrne who lived in nearby Gardiner Street at the time of the bombing. He recalled the night in which the bombs fell.

I was 4 years old on the night of the bombings, I remember it well because my brother had made his first holy communion that weekend. We were all in bed, 1 o’clock in the morning. We heard loud explosions and planes flying, I remember my father sitting up in the bed and shouting ‘GERMAN  B*****S!’. I remember the deafening and frightening sounds as the aircrafts flew overhead. I heard the next day that 30 people had died and I also recall seeing that the bombs had destroyed the roof of the local church, St. Agatha’s.”

On June 19th of the same year, the Irish Government came out and announced that the government of Nazi Germany had apologised and had offered compensation. Miraculously, The Five Lamps survived the bombings of the North Strand and it is still standing in the same spot 76 years on.

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The North Strand the morning after the bombs dropped (Image: independent.ie)

 

 

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