Occupying the northern end of Parnell Square, the Garden of Remembrance is a memorial to those who gave their lives for Irish freedom. It was opened 50 years ago this month, writes RAY CLEERE
“The purpose of the garden is to remind us of the sacrifices of the past, the struggle and suffering over the centuries by which the effort was made to secure independence.”
With those words, the then President of Ireland, Éamon de Valera, opened the imposing Garden of Remembrance at Parnell Square in Dublin 50 years ago on Easter Monday, April 11, 1966, the day after the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
It was blessed by the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. John Charles McQuaid. It is dedicated to all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.
Ranged along each side of the long raised central pool, the 1916 veterans and the men and women who soon followed, waited once again to pay homage. In Parnell Square, tones of sadness and drama were more keenly felt than during the previous Sunday’s pageantry.
As the Angelus rang out at midday, the thoughts of many who were present at the time turned to the same hour on Easter Monday 50 years before, April 24, 1916, when Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation, which was so full of defiance, so full of promise, so full of hope.
Before the formal words and sacred rites, the Army No. 1 band played as the veterans and dignitaries arrived.
A cheerful crowd of several thousand vied for a limited number of positions which offered a good view. Among the crowd was Alderman Peter de Loughry of Kilkenny, the man who made the key which helped Éamon de Valera to make his dramatic escape from Lincoln Prison almost 50 years before.
Windows around Parnell Square were filled with faces and nurses in the nearby Rotunda Hospital at the time had a particularly fine vantage point on the top floor.