Some thoughts in the Garden of Remembrance

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of mosaic in the Garden of Remembrance Dublin

I happened to be in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin recently and they were cleaning out the ornamental pool so this gave me a chance to examine and photograph the mosaic floor which is normally only seen through the water.

The mosaic depicts broken spears, swords and shields – a reference to the old Celtic custom of breaking weapons and throwing them into the river to signify the end of hostilities.

photo of Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square Cultural Quarter
photo from the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter website

This beautiful garden in historic Parnell Square was designed by architect Dáithí Hanly and dedicated to the memory of “all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom”.  It was officially opened in 1966 on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.  The garden is intended as a place of quiet contemplation and remembrance.

I ndorchacht an éadóchais rinneadh aisling dúinn.  Lasamar solas an dóchais… 

Lines from the poem entitled: “Aisling” which is carved in stone on the back wall of the garden.  In the darkness of despair we saw a vision, we lit the light of hope…  But I’m well aware that this week is not a hope-filled one.

charcoal drawing by Eoin Mac Lochlainn commemorating the Irish Civil War

This week, one hundred years ago, the Irish Free State came into being and William Thomas Cosgrave was elected Taoiseach and Seán Hales elected Ceann Comhairle.  Hales was shot dead the following day.  And today, on the 8th of December 1922, the new state executed four prisoners (who had nothing to do with the shooting) in an act of reprisal for the killing of Hayes.  It got worse and worse after that…

So maybe it’s no wonder that people don’t like to talk about the Irish Civil War but it did happen – and about 1400 people were killed and many, many more lives were ruined because of it.  I think that the least we can do is to acknowledge the trauma and to commemorate the dead.


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