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Necrology Wall

Glasnevin Cemetery scraps revolutionary period commemorative wall after vandalism

The wall, which included the names of British forces, had been attacked twice.

THE OWNERS OF Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin have decided to discontinue a commemorative wall marking all those who died in the revolutionary period, including members of British forces. 

The wall was damaged twice in recent years, after paint was thrown upon the wall in 2017 in an act described as “callous vandalism” and secondly in February 2020

The board of Dublin Cemeteries Trust, which operates five cemeteries across Dublin, said in a statement that following several acts of vandalism it had had taken the decision, “with great regret, to discontinue the Necrology Wall element of its 1916-1923 remembrance activity”.

“The unfortunate decision to not proceed with further inscriptions and to discontinue the existing structure is due to the severe nature of the damage caused during the most recent attack.

“The damaged Necrology Wall will be replaced by plain black granite panels on a date yet to be finalised. The original wall on which the Necrology Wall is inscribed has been in place since the inception of the Glasnevin Cemetery Visitor Centre in April 2010.

“It is the firm view of Dublin Cemeteries Trust that if the wall were to be repaired for a third time it would be vandalised again.

“Dublin Cemeteries Trust is not in a position to cover the costs of continually repairing the wall or in the position to provide the security that would be necessary to ensure its protection, nor to guarantee the safety of staff and visitors in the case of further attacks.

“For these reasons, to repair and continue with the Necrology Wall project is no longer feasible.

“Dublin Cemeteries Trust undertook an extensive review process to examine a range of options to repair and keep the wall in its current format.

“These included, but were not limited to, extra security, alternative viewing spaces, and enclosing the wall in a protective layer. However, no option could provide a viable, long-term solution, given the inevitability of further attacks.”

It said the trust would continue the process of researching the names and stories of those who died because of the conflict during this period in Irish history.

“Remembrance and reflection of this time period will be continued by the Trust in other formats – including educational activity which share stories of those buried in our cemeteries from both sides of the conflict and necrology books.

“A standalone monument to remember this period is also currently being discussed by the board of Dublin Cemeteries Trust.

“The essence of the Necrology Wall was remembrance and reflection, based on historical fact, in a non-judgemental and non-hierarchical manner. It was a public record of each person who died as a result of the conflict in Ireland from Easter 1916 to the end of the civil war in 1923.

“The intention of the wall was for each visitor to derive from it what they wish in a peaceful and reflective manner.

“Sadly, that could not be. Our commitment to remembrance and reflection of this period will continue.”

RTÉ broadcaster Joe Duffy, who wrote a book about the children who died during the Easter Rising, said he was saddened and shocked at the move and intended to hold a protest today with relatives of those killed in 1916.

However the decision has been welcomed elsewhere, with Dublin councillor and former Lord Mayor Nial Ring saying it was the correct move. 

“My grandfather and his four brothers all took part in the Easter Rising in 1916 as part of the GPO Garrison,” Ring said in a statement. 

“When visiting my father’s and grandfather’s grave in the cemetery I had to walk past this wall and it always saddened me to see the names of the Volunteers and citizens who died during the conflict hand in hand with those whose role was to suppress our fight for freedom and continue the oppression of our people.”

He added that it was not a triumph for vandalism but for common sense.

Former Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan described it as a “victory for intolerance”. 

‘The wall was designed as a commemorative reminder of the many different experiences of the tumult and trauma of early 20th century Ireland,” he said.

“At that time Ireland was a place of diversity, a patchwork quilt with many different backgrounds beliefs and aspirations.

“Sadly today’s decision shows that we have a long  road to travel towards  respect for the different traditions and multiple narratives that make up these islands.”

Niall O'Connor and Daragh Brophy