The Peace Park located on Nicholas Street, across the street from Christ Church Cathedral, is once again open to the public and this time it will be under the supervision of a part-time park warden in the hope that anti-social activity will be kept under control.
For many years Independent councillor Mannix Flynn has complained that the old Peace Park suffered from anti-social behaviour in the form of public drinking and drug use and I cannot argue with that claim especially as that was why the park had been closed to the public for many years.
Plans for a redesign and relaunch of the park were announced about three years ago but many people objected to some aspects of the new layout. One proposal, that attracted much local opposition, was to remove railings from around the park in order create an open public space but this idea was scrapped for obvious reasons.
In 2018 the Government of Flanders offered to partner with Dublin City on a memorial to the 50,000 Irishmen who died in the Flanders fields during World War One. The aim of this memorial was “to bring people together in reflection about war and peace, about sacrifice and suffering, about tolerance and hope, about forgiveness and reconciliation”. As you may have guessed the idea of a war memorial in a peace park did not go down well with some interested parties but after much discussion the Flanders memorial has been installed as part of the revamped park .
The original park was described as follows by the City Council: " Located in Nicholas Street across from Christchurch Cathedral, this small park was dedicated to the yearning for Peace in Ireland and was officially opened in 1988. Designed as a sunken garden to reduce traffic noise at this busy junction, the main features include a bronze "Tree of Life", a pool/fountain and fine natural stonework of Calp and Liscannor. Heathers provide ground cover to a backing of formal planting of hornbeams. The peace theme is reflected in both the beds of Peace Roses and appropriate biblical and poetic quotations from Yeats and Kavanagh."
Recently, Lord Mayor Nial Ring and Jan Peumans, Speaker of the Parliament of Flanders presided over a ceremony jointly organised by Dublin City Council and the Government of Flanders, Belgium, in Dublin’s Peace Garden. This solemn act of remembrance for all those from the Island of Ireland who died in Flanders Fields during World War I, saw Flanders soil integrated with Irish soil (to symbolise the four Provinces of Ireland) and placed within a circle of Leinster granite which reflects the circular design in the roof of the Menin Gate in Ypres.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Lord Mayor said: “On behalf of the citizens of Dublin, I accept this gift from the people of Flanders. This memorial will serve as a reminder of our long standing friendship with Flanders and along with the ‘Tree of Life’ Sculpture, will stand as focal points in the Peace Garden when it officially re-opens in the coming weeks. This Peace Garden which will be maintained by the dedicated staff of Dublin City Council Parks & Landscape Services will provide a place for reflection, rest and relaxation for visitors & citizens.”
Nic Van der Marliere, General Representative of the Government of Flanders to Ireland said: “The human price paid to safeguard peace and human rights and the message of tolerance and reconciliation, are an essential part of remembrance for Flanders. The First World War may be a hundred years behind us, but the inalienability of the rights of all human beings, respect for freedom and democracy, are as relevant today as they were then. Maybe more so, because today too many people and countries take them too much for granted. Flanders will always show its profound gratitude for the extraordinary generosity and support of the Irish People in its hour of need. The Flanders Fields Memorial, uniting soil from Flanders and the four Provinces of Ireland will be an eternal testimony to our great and unwavering friendship.”
Pierre-Emmanuel De Bauw, Ambassador of Belgium to Ireland said: “We remember with emotion all people from this island who served in World War I. They fought for peace in their own time and for us today. Peace is the most treasurable value for us human beings. If the terrible sacrifices of World War I taught us one thing, it’s this: we should, and we can live together in peace.”
The memorial will, subsequently be covered with a grass sward and engraved with poetry from Francis Ledwidge. Around the memorial, benches of Belgian blue stone have been engraved with the crests of Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht.