Gangster's car blast victim relives his terror

Cormac Byrne

A FORMER State forensic scientist has recalled the moment he was blown up by The General.

Dr Jim Donovan has told how a car bomb planted by the gangster blew him up as he drove to work.

In a new interview, the respected scientist said: "I saw a flash and knew immediately that I was cut. I went more or less blind and I put my hand down and felt my trousers and my flesh in shreds."

It was the second bomb placed under Dr Donovan's car by Martin Cahill in 1981, when the scientist was set to give evidence against him.

Dr Donovan was hit by a similar attack on the Naas Road one month before the second incident.

"I was driving to work as usual on the same piece of road I always used when something detonated and an enormous flame lifted the car," he said. "It was quite phenomenal."

He sustained minor cuts and bruises in that attack but a more devastating explosion changed his life a month later. The bomb under the driver's seat left the CSI-style specialist with serious leg injuries.


Dr Donovan was the former director of the Forensic Science Laboratory for almost three decades. He recounts the horrifying attack in a National Geographic documentary.

The scientist says he and his wife mark the anniversary of his survival every January with a meal they call The Feast Of The Explosion.

Medics reconstructed Dr Donovan's foot using bone and skin taken from a different part of his body. But he lives in constant pain.

Dr Donovan was due to give evidence against Cahill after a factory raid in Clondalkin. He had 58 pieces of evidence linking him to the raid.

"I was about two feet away from him and I found that quite unnerving," he said. "He was a distinctly obnoxious individual. He is one of the few people that I cannot think of any redeeming feature."

Cahill escaped conviction when the chief witness in the case said that she was never in fear for her life.