The Office of Public Works
The Irish National War Memorial Gardens
The Irish National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge, Dublin, were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), and commemorate the memory of the Irish men and women who died in the First World War. The initial impetus for the scheme was decided in 1919, and a Memorial Committee appointed to raise funds. Various locations for the memorial were discussed, until the present site was granted to the project in 1929. The public park and interior memorial lawn that exist today were put in place during the 1930s, using a construction team of ex-servicemen drawn in equal proportion from both the British Army and the Irish National Army. The Gardens have figured strongly in peacekeeping ceremonies (the first ceremony to commemorate the Irish war dead, that was attended by a Taoiseach, took place there in 2006), and remain the focus of commemorative events today (the Gardens were a key location on the itinerary of Queen Elizabeth II in 2011).
The site chosen for the Gardens lies on the banks of the River Liffey, and was known as Longmeadows. It is around fifty acres in size. Its location next to this section of the Liffey meant that it was an important ancient and medieval fording point. The earliest Viking burials were discovered in the vicinity in the early nineteenth century. The most recent excavations in 2008 uncovered a grave which contained a sword, spearhead, and ringed pin. In an era when the Liffey was unconstrained by its modern quays, and spread far wider than it does today, Islandbridge was the first navigable point. The Irish National War Memorial Gardens therefore occupy a space that was important at many different points in Irish history.
Today, the location of the Gardens mean that they are a popular recreational destination for both the local community and international visitors alike. The pathways between the rose gardens, tree avenues, and herbaceous borders allow for pleasant walking. The presence of many boatclubs, mainly along the north side of the Liffey, mean that the park is a significant hub for rowing, and other water sports, in Dublin. The 250m-long weir, dating to the 13th century, attracts a steady stream of anglers who fish its salmon and trout.
A new trail, which brings together a looped walking tour of the Gardens with a chronological narration of the First World War, is now available. Click here to download for free. The trail is compliant with senior cycle SESE, but can be enjoyed by anyone.
Voices of Memory
18th April – 12th November 2017
Voices of Memory. A Riverside Sound Art Installation at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens by Christina Kubischis a contemporary remembrance of the more than 49,000 Irish people who died in the First World War. In 1923, these names were published in Ireland’s Memorial Records 1914-1918. Consisting of eight volumes, these records, beautifully designed and illustrated by Irish artist Harry Clarke, are housed nearby in the Irish National War Memorial Gardens.
Almost the entire list of these names was read by volunteers of different ages and accents from across Ireland. The sound installation is based on the flow of these male and female voices playing over the banks of the river. The names are heard in alphabetical order, and every name, even when repeated, corresponds to a different person. The composer has not intervened much in the recordings other than to vary the density, rhythm and flow of names in this four channel installation. Along with small breaks of silence, the composition includes sounds of underwater recordings made in the Liffey; the rhythm of the passing rowing boats, the hidden natural world of small insects and animals, and the flow of water itself.
The installation will be open to the public in the Irish National War Memorial Gardens on the southern banks of the Liffey from 18 April till 12 November 2017. It was inaugurated on the 29 June 2016 on the occasion of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. Goethe Institut.