Glasnevin Cemetery is a vast place, but, as it happened, the other area I was intent on visiting was not so far from the O’Connell tower (above) and the Republican Plot that we saw last post.
But before we take a look at the Commonwealth Plot,…
…just a week before my visit,…
…this new France-Ireland memorial was unveiled,…
…a gift from the French to remember their friendship with the Irish,…
…and in recognition of the solidarity and sacrifice made by so many Irishmen in the defence and freedom of France, particularly during the Great War.
The memorial itself was designed by the Paris Fine Arts School.
The cross atop the memorial is a replica of the original cross (now housed in the War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge in Dublin) built by the men of the 16th Irish Division for the churchyard at Ginchy on the Somme.
In September 1916 the division lost 1,200 men killed during the fighting at Ginchy and Guillemont.
The nearby Commonwealth Plot commemorates 166 burials of the Great War, and 41 of the Second World War,…
…remembered on two screen walls, with a Cross of Sacrifice beyond beneath the trees.
Information boards detail the exploits of the Irish divisions during the Battle of the Somme.
All the men whose names are inscribed here are buried in the cemetery, although their graves are not marked by headstones in the normal CWGC way. Whether this means that some of the graves have been lost, or are simply unmarked, I am unsure.
‘In memory of the Officers, N.C.Os. and men who served and died during the Great War and are buried in this cemetery and whose names are here recorded.’
All four faces of the Great War screen wall are inscribed with names (above & below).
And behind the screen wall, these tablets are each inscribed with the name of an Irish Great War recipient of the Victoria Cross.
Lieutenant George Roupell, East Surrey Regiment (those old-timers of you who have been reading this claptrap for as long as I’ve been writing it, will know why).
As you can see, the Cross of Sacrifice was dedicated as recently as July 2014.
The row of VC holders flanks the pathway up to the Cross,…
…although as 37 Victoria Crosses were awarded to Irishmen during the Great War,…
…clearly not all are remembered here, these being only the VC holders with Dublin connections. Plaques like these, 480 in total, can now be found throughout the British Isles marking the birth places of British-born Great War VC recipients.
The dates of the actions when these men won their VCs all appear to be from early in the war…
…up to September 1916.
Cross of Sacrifice (above & below).
Back to the Great War screen wall…
…and the names on the reverse side,…
…which has the same inscription at the top as we saw earlier on the other side. Second from the top of the column immediately to the left of the poppy you will notice the name of Lieutenant Colonel William Moyle O’Connor, Royal Army Medical Corps, whose grave we visited last post. Which proves that some of the actual graves are marked, if not all.
The smaller of the two screen walls has the names of the Second World War dead on it (below). Note the castellated tower in the background (above). Why on earth does a cemetery need a watchtower (more than one, actually, as you follow the wall round the cemetery)?
The earliest Irish First World War VCs. On the left, Lieutenant Maurice Dease was one of the first British officer casualties, and the first posthumous recipient of the VC, of the war.
Before we leave, right next to the Commonwealth Plot in the background, this is the grave of Charles Stewart Parnell, Irish nationalist politician of the late 19th Century, and during the 1880s a major figure in the House of Commons, his Irish Party, dedicated to achieving Home Rule and a devolved government within the United Kingdom, at one point sending 86 MPs to Westminster, where they briefly held the balance of power.
Unfortunately for Parnell, and proving that some things never change, his private life proved problematic, and, once made public, undoubtedly affected his standing in both political and religious circles.
He was only 45 when he died of pneumonia in October 1891. Gladstone called him ‘an intellectual phenomenon’, Liberal leader Herbert Asquith described him as one of the three or four greatest men of the 19th Century, while to Lord Haldane he was ‘the strongest man the House of Commons has seen in 150 years’. A. J. P. Taylor, eminent historian, once said of him, ‘More than any other man he gave Ireland the sense of being an independent nation.’ And he does have a mighty memorial in the centre of Dublin (above).
Oh, and before I forget, if you’re interested in the answer to my earlier question about watchtowers:
Grave robbers. Mid-19th Century grave robbers. That’s why a cemetery like this required watchtowers, if you hadn’t worked it out (thanks to the Missus for the above photo).