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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 6 July, 2020
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1798 Rebellion memorial park that closed due to anti-social behaviour will reopen today

The Croppies Acre Memorial Park is thought to be a mass grave site for the 1798 rebels

Image: National Graves Association

A PARK DEDICATED to the memories of the Irish volunteers who died in the 1798 Rebellion will be officially reopened today after it was closed in 2012.

The Croppies Acre Memorial Park on Wolfe Tone Quay closed to the public in 2012 after the Office of Public Works (OPW) – who maintained the park at the time – said that they couldn’t keep it safe for the public.

The park is located close Heuston Station and in front of the National Museum at Collins Barracks on the north side of the River Liffey.

It was designed and laid out in 1998, a year after the Decorative Arts section of the National Museum was opened at Collins Barracks.

However, it was a regular site of anti-social behaviour and drug use throughout the years.

Hypodermic needles were regularly found at the park, and in September 2012 the OPW said that it didn’t have the budget to keep to park safe for the public and permanently padlocked the gate.

The closure came just one year after about €35,000 had been sunk into restoring the park.

In October 2013, a volunteer society undertook a clean up of the park and found multiple used syringes.

1382811_433963936708067_1851035231_n Needles found by volunteers cleaning up the park in October, 2013. Source: Seán Heuston 1916 Society, Dublin

The management of the park was handed over to Dublin City Council by the OPW in 2013 and the council’s Parks and Landscapes Services carried out extensive works on it to upgrade it and make it more accessible for the public.

The council said that in total the works cost about €120,000.

Mass grave

Matt Doyle, of the voluntary National Graves Association – which lists and maintains the graves of Irish patriots – said that the organisation was “very happy” that the park was reopening.

“The park used to function very well but then closed due to the lack of funding,” he said.

As well as being a memorial to the Irish rebels who died in the 1798 United Irishmen Rebellion, the park is also home to the Anna Livia sculpture since 2011, which used to sit on O’Connell Street in the place of the Spire.

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24/2/2011 Anna Livia sculptures in new home FILE PHOTO: Anna Livia sculpture by artist Eamonn O' Doherty (pictured) at the Croppies Memorial park in 2011. Source: /Photocall Ireland

Recent proposals for the Liffey Cycle Route – a cycle path that would cut through part of the park – have been met with protest from the NGA, which doesn’t want the area disturbed.

The path has also been objected to by a number of city councillors over the fact that a section of it would cut through the memorial park – which many organisations believe is a mass burial ground.

The NGA contend that the park is a mass burial site for rebels who fought in the failed 1798 Rebellion – commonly referred as Croppies due to their close cut hair which mimicked the style of the French revolutionaries at the time.

The NGA and others state that the site was used as a burial site for the Croppies after the rebellion. Matthew Tone, a brother of Theobald Wolfe Tone is reported to be buried there.

However, this fact is disputed by other groups. A recent report carried on behalf of Dublin City Council by Archaeology Plan – a heritage consultancy company – found that the remains may not be buried in the park at all.

The newly renovated park has a new circulatory path system, an upgrading of the existing pedestrian gates and a new pedestrian gate has been installed at the south west end.

Leslie Moore, the city park superintendent for the council said that the new renovation would “benefit the local population and visitors to the city”.

“I would like to thank all involved in making what is essentially a new park available to the people of Dublin,” he said.

Read: Anna Livia monument floats to a new home

Read: Want to see the real Rebellion? These photographs bring you to the heart of the Rising

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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