The Irish National War Memorial Gardens
The Irish National War Memorial Gardens are one of the most famous memorial gardens in Europe. They are dedicated to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who died in the First World War, and were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens who had already landscaped other gardens all over Ireland and Europe.
In 1919, a Memorial Committee was established with the task of raising funds for the Gardens. It took ten years before the present location of the Gardens was decided on, and work on the gardens began in 1931.
After a long discussion about various possible locations, the present site was granted to the project in 1929 and the work on the physical Gardens began in 1931. The site chosen, lying on the banks of the River Liffey, was known as Longmeadows, and is around 50 acres in size. It was an important ancient and medieval fording point, and the earliest Viking burials were discovered in the vicinity in the 19th century.
Before work on the Gardens began, the Memorial Committee set about commissioning an interim memorial project. This was to be a set of books, the pages of which listed the names of every Irish soldier who had been lost in the war. The list ran to just under 50,000 names occupying 3,200 pages over eight volumes altogether.
Harry Clarke, already very well-known and highly-regarded for his work in book illustration and stained glass, was commissioned for the border decoration. He created seven different designs which are repeated and reversed throughout the set, a front page and a last page, and the illustrations feature silhouettes of military scenes mixed with Celtic mythology.
Following the completion of the Gardens, each of the four bookrooms located in the gardens held a pair of books from the set.
Keep an eye out for the bookrooms during your next trip to the Gardens!