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Irish National War Memorial Gardens

 

The Irish National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge are dedicated to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who died between 1914-1918 in the First World War


The Gardens

The Gardens were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and are characteristic of his style of simple dignity.  They occupy an area of about eight hectares on the southern banks of the River Liffey, almost opposite the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park, and about three kilometres from the centre of Dublin.

Following a meeting of over one hundred representatives from all parts of Ireland, held in Dublin on 17th July 1919, it was agreed that there should be a permanent Memorial to commemorate all those Irish men and women killed in the First World War and a Memorial Committee was appointed to raise funds to further this aim.  A number of schemes were suggested including a Memorial centre-piece in Merrion Square but all were found to be impractical or inconsistent with legal obligations.  The matter had arrived at an impasse, until, in 1929, the Irish Government suggested that a memorial Park be laid out on a site known as Longmeadows on the banks of the Liffey.  The scheme embodied the idea of a public park, to be laid out at Government expense, which would include a Garden of Remembrance and War Memorial to be paid for from the funds of the Memorial Committee.  Construction of the linear parkway, about 60 hectares in extent stretching from Islandbridge to Chapelizod, began in 1931 and took about two years to complete.  The Memorial Gardens were laid out between 1933 and 1939.  The workforce for the project was formed of fifty percent of ex-British Army servicemen and fifty percent of ex-servicemen from the Irish National Army.

The Landscape Designer

Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), the distinguished British architect and landscape designer, was commissioned to prepare the design.  Lutyens was no stranger to Ireland having previously worked on Lambay Island, Co. Dublin, for Lord Revelstoke, at Howth Castle for T.J. Gainsford-St Lawrence and at Heywood, Co. Laois, for Colonel and Mrs Hutcheson Poe.  Heywood is now managed by the Office of Public Works.  The gardens as a whole are a lesson in classical symmetry and formality and it is generally acknowledged that his concept for the Islandbridge site is outstanding among the many war memorials he created throughout the world.  His love of local material and the contrasting moods of the various ‘compartments’ of the gardens, all testify to his artistic genius.