This beautiful, peaceful large sunken garden in the heart of Dublin city was designed by Dáithí Hanly and dedicated to the memory of all who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom. It features a pool in the shape of a non-denominational cross designed to be inclusive of all religions, creeds or colours.
The large sculpture by Oisín Kelly is based on the theme of the ‘Children of Lir’, symbolising rebirth and resurrection, added in 1971. The garden is intended as a place of quiet remembrance and reflection. Oisín Kelly also designed the statue of James Larkin on O’Connell Street.
The Garden commemorates freedom fighters from various uprisings, including:
- The 1798 Rebellion of the Society of United Irishmen
- The 1803 Rebellion of Robert Emmet
- The 1848 Rebellion of Young Ireland
- The 1867 Rising of the Fenian Brotherhood
- The 1916 Easter Rising of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army
- The 1919-21 Irish War of Independence of the IRA.
The site of the Garden is where several leaders of the 1916 Rising were held overnight before being taken to Kilmainham Gaol. The Garden was opened in 1966 by President Éamon de Valera on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, in which he had been a commander.
In 1976, a contest was held to find a poem which could express the appreciation and inspiration of this struggle for freedom. The winner was Dublin born author Liam Mac Uistín, whose poem “We Saw a Vision”, an aisling style poem, is written in Irish, French, and English on the stone wall of the monument. The aisling form was used in eighteenth-century poems longing for an end to Ireland’s miserable condition.
“We Saw A Vision”
In the darkness of despair we saw a vision,
We lit the light of hope and it was not extinguished.
In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision.
We planted the tree of valour and it blossomed.
In the winter of bondage we saw a vision.
We melted the snow of lethargy and the river of resurrection flowed from it.
We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river. The vision became a reality.
Winter became summer. Bondage became freedom and this we left to you as your inheritance.
O generations of freedom remember us, the generations of the vision.
In Irish the poem reads:
I ndorchacht an éadóchais rinneadh aisling dúinn.
Lasamar solas an dóchais agus níor múchadh é.
I bhfásach an lagmhisnigh rinneadh aisling dúinn.
Chuireamar crann na crógachta agus tháinig bláth air.
I ngeimhreadh na daoirse rinneadh aisling dúinn.
Mheileamar sneachta na táimhe agus rith abhainn na hathbheochana as.
Chuireamar ár n-aisling ag snámh mar eala ar an abhainn. Rinneadh fírinne den aisling.
Rinneadh samhradh den gheimhreadh. Rinneadh saoirse den daoirse agus d’fhágamar agaibhse mar oidhreacht í. A ghlúnta na saoirse cuimhnígí orainne, glúnta na haislinge.
The weekend of the 1916 centenary began with a dignified event in the Garden of Remembrance which sought to honour those who fought and died in the Rising while remembering all who lost their lives during Easter week, with a combination of military ceremonial, traditional music, silent reflection and the laying of a wreath by President Michael D. Higgins.