An Cosantóir

August 2011

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

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Page 26 of 35

history | 27 of book rooms constructed in granite. These represent the four provinces of Ireland and contain the books of remem- brance in which are inscribed the names of the 49,400 soldiers who lost their lives during the conflict. The famous stained- glass designer Harry Clarke carried out the ornate Celtic decoration in these books. The Ginchy Cross is also housed in one of the book rooms. This wooden cross was erected in 1917 as a memorial to almost 5,000 Irish soldiers of the 16th Irish Divi- sion who were killed in action at Guille- mont and Ginchy during the battle of the Somme. The cross was later replaced by a stone one and the original was returned to Ireland in 1926. The sunken Rose Garden is located on either side of the central lawn. Entrance is gained by walking between the granite pergolas. It is interesting to note that the garden is devoid of any military symbolism and is more a place of peace and tranquil- lity than a glorification of war. The north terrace is screened by a num- ber of trees and beyond, from the dome shaped temple, a number of tree-lined avenues radiate from its centre. The planting of the trees and flow- ers were vital to Lutyens’s design and a committee was established to carry out and supervise the planting scheme. Sir Frederick Moore, a former keeper in the Botanical Gardens and Mr AF Pearson of the Phoenix Park directed the planting of the trees and the selection of over 4,000 roses for the gardens. Though the park was opened to the public in 1937, a delay in obtaining a completion certificate for the grounds deferred an official opening and the outbreak of the Second World War post- poned the opening indefinitely. In the years that followed, a lack of finances was to restrict future works and maintenance and by the 1960s the gardens were falling into disrepair, decay and dilapidation. In 1988, after a period of extensive restoration the gardens were rededicated to the many servicemen that lost their lives in both world wars. The OPW now manages the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in conjunction with the National War Memorial Committee. The Garden of Remembrance and the War Memorial Gardens are open to the public and are worth a visit, not just for the history that has just been made but also to remember those that have fallen and to ensure that history does not forget them. Paul O’Brien is an Irish historian and author. He has published two books: Blood on the Streets, 1916 and the battle for Mount Street Bridge and Uncommon Valour, 1916 and the battle for South Dublin Union. Paul also holds an MA in History and you can contact him at THE DEFENCE FORCES MAGAZINE

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