An Cosantóir

August 2011

An Cosantóir the official magazine of the Irish Defence Forces and Reserve Defence Forces.

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26 | BY PAUL O’BRIEN PHOTOGRAPHS BY CPL GREG DORNEY servicemen, Catholic and Protestant, who died during the Great War. The gardens, which are located on the HONOURING THE DEAD (PART 2) T he Irish National War Memorial Gar- dens at Islandbridge commemorate the sacrifice of the almost 50,000 Irish In 1929 the Irish government suggested southern banks of the Liffey about three kilometres from the centre of the city. They occupy an area of about three hectares, were designed by Sir Edward Lutyens. Shortly after ‘the war to end all wars’ drew to a close it was decided that a permanent memorial to commemorate all those Irish men and Irish women who were killed during the conflict should be erected in Ireland. On July 17th 1919, one hundred representatives from all over Ireland met in Dublin and established a memorial committee to raise funds to further this aim. In the years that fol- lowed, a number of suggestions were put forward but all were rejected due to their impracticality, inconsistency, or failure to meet planning obligations. a memorial park should be constructed on the banks of the River Liffey at Long- meadows. The plan consisted of a public park, a garden of remembrance and a war memorial. The Memorial Committee would pay for the war memorial and the government would finance the gardens. Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), who de- signed the Cenotaph in London, was com- missioned to prepare the design. His design was one of classical symmetry and formal- ity; a stone cross overlooking an elaborate symmetrical garden with four classical granite pavilions linked by pergolas. The first phase of the construction began in 1931 with a linear parkway that stretched from Islandbridge to Chapel- izod. The second phase saw the memorial gardens laid out between 1933 and 1939. (The workforce for the project consisted of ex-British army personnel residing in Ireland and also ex-servicemen from the Irish National Army). Enclosed within a high limestone wall with granite piers is the central lawn, the centre of which is a Stone of Remem- brance made from Irish granite. (Lutyens designed the Stone of Remembrance for the Imperial War Graves Commission. It was designed to be used in IWGC war cemeteries containing 1,000 or more graves, or at memorial sites commemorat- ing more than 1,000 war dead. Hundreds were erected following World War I). The Stone of Remembrance symbolises an altar and is flanked on either side by fountain basins with central obelisks symbolising candles. The combined symbolism of the altar, candles and cross is representative of death and resurrection. Aligned with the Stone of Remembrance and the central avenue stands the Great Cross. Inscribed on the limestone wall are the words: ‘To the memory of the 49,400 Irishmen who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918’. At either end of the lawns are two pairs An Cosantóir August 2011

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