Rededication of the National Army Monument, Glasnevin Cemetery, 30th July 2023

On Sunday, 30 July 2023, representatives of ARCO attended the Rededication of the National Army Monument in Glasnevin Cemetery, honouring personnel of the National Army who died during the Civil War, June 1922 – April 1923.

An Taoiseach, Mr Leo Varadkar T.D., the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence, Mr Micheál Martin T.D., and the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieutenant-General Seán Clancy, participated in the rededication ceremony, which took place on the Sunday nearest to the centenary of the enactment of the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act 1923, which provides the legal basis for Óglaigh na hÉireann. 

Descendants of soldiers of the National Army who died during the Civil War, including a representative family from each of the four provinces on the island of Ireland, were invited guests at the ceremony.  Among the invited guests were descendants of General Michael Collins.

Situated beside the UN Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery, the National Army Plot contains the remains of 183 of the estimated 810 National Army soldiers who died during the Civil War.  The other soldiers who died lie buried in graveyards across Ireland.

Designed by Gary Blakely, the new monument, made from Kilkenny blue limestone, takes inspiration from the National Flag, following its proportions and tricolour division. Its focal point is the Defence Forces Badge, designed by Professor Eoin MacNeill for the Irish Volunteers and adopted by it in the year following its foundation in 1913. The font used in the main inscription is Duibhlinn, used to draft the 1937 Irish Constitution, while that of the English text is Gaillimh, designed for the Galway City of Culture programme in 2020. Ms Aileen-Anne Brannigan carved the Irish text and numerals, Mr Ciarán Byrne carved the English text. The blacksmith sculptor was Mr Michael Calnan, and the bronze casting is by Athy Co-Op Foundry.

On arrival at Glasnevin, An Taoiseach inspected a Lieutenant’s Guard of Honour drawn from the 1 Infantry Battalion, Dún Úi Mhaoilíosa, Galway. 

In welcoming the guests, Lieutenant-General Seán Clancy said: “It is appropriate, in the spirit of real inclusiveness, of ethical remembering, and with a full desire to deal with some of the more uncomfortable aspects of our shared history, that we remember some of 810 uniformed members of Óglaigh na hÉireann who gave their lives in the service of the State during the tragic and critical period at the foundation of our democracy.

For far too long there has been no memorial of any kind, nor any complete listing of the National Army war dead.  Indeed, this year represents perhaps the last real opportunity to rectify that. Whatever the often very legitimate reasons our forebears may have had for forgetting in the intervening 100 years, I think it is appropriate now that I as the 32nd Chief of Staff of Óglaigh na hÉireann should finally take this opportunity to rehabilitate their memory.”

After the unveiling, wreaths were laid by Mr Leo Varadkar T.D., Mr Micheál Martin T.D., Lieutenant-General Seán Clancy and Ms Ellen Warde who is a Great Great Great Grand Niece of Private Christopher Kearns who killed in action during an ambush in October 1922 in Ferrycarrig, County Wexford. 

The Honour Guard was provided by 7 Infantry Battalion, the Piper’s Lament, The Limerick Lament, was played by Sergeant Joe Meade, and the Last Post and Reveille were rendered by instrumentalists from the Defence Forces School of Music.  The ceremony concluded with the playing of the National Anthem.

Attendance included the Lord Mayor of Dublin Councillor Daithí de Roiste, Former Chief’s of Staff: Lieutenant-General Seán McCann DSM and Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, Secretary-General of the Department of Defence Ms Jacqui McCrum, Dr Maurice Manning Chair Expert Advisory Group Decade of Centenaries, Dr Michael Kennedy Royal Irish Academy, members of the General Staff, GOC 2 Eastern Brigade, GOC Air Corps, FOC Naval Service, representatives of RACO, PDFORRA, ONE and IUNVA.  ARCO was represented by Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retd), Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Ahern (Retd), and Captain Tony Doonan (Retd).

Following the ceremony, a reception was held in the Exhibition Room, during which Military Archives unveiled its digital interactive nominal roll of National Army personnel who died during the Civil War.

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