During my tour Joe Cahill and his sympathisers decided to have a ‘rant’ as a result of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ debacle in the North; outside the Embassy, then located in Merrion Square.
They had tried unsuccessfully to breach the front door; being held back by the Garda and the main door itself, which was armour plated. I wondered at the time why they hadn’t attempted an entry by way of the rear entrance, which would have been easily accessible, but of course there were no television cameras at that part of the building.
Eventually Joe and his men changed tack during the evening and gained entry via the neighbouring building, using its balcony to get onto the Embassy balcony and set fire to the first floor. The intruders were cleared from the building as the Dublin Fire Brigade arrived.
I had to do an early morning stint (02.00 – 04.00) keeping an eye on things while the firemen were meant to be damping down. When I arrived very little was happening and the firemen seemed to be in an extremely happy mood’ and strongly smelling of the hard stuff.
It was only when my relief arrived just after 04.00 and, as his office had not been too badly damaged, we found the reason for the firemen’s euphoric state – his supply of six crates of Whisky, Brandy and Gin had completely disappeared!
The postscript to this tale was that thirty three years later while enjoying a day at Taunton races I was in conversation with an Irish lady racehorse owner who had travelled over from Dublin to see her horse win. She asked me if I had ever been over to Dublin and I replied in the affirmative. As I was regaling her with the burning of the Embassy she laughed and said that the IRA had scored an own goal. The property was only rented by the British and the whole cost of repair and relocation was met by the Dublin Government.