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Work finally begins to refurbish The Liberties' Peace Park

There’s been disagreement over whether a First World War memorial should be placed in the ‘peace’ park.

WORK HAS BEGUN at The Liberties’ Peace Park, after years of the park being closed due to antisocial behaviour. 

The park, located in Nicholas Street, Dublin across from Christchurch Cathedral, was designed as a sunken garden to reduce traffic noise at a busy junction.

The park’s old main features include a bronze ‘Tree of Life’ statue, a fountain, and features biblical and quotes from Irish poets WB Yeats and Patrick Kavanagh.

The central sunken area of the part will be raised, and some of the dense tree and shrub planting will be removed to let more light into the garden.

A number of the elements from Dublin City Council’s 2017 Silver Gilt ‘Bloom’ garden will also be used in the Peace Garden including a fountain, granite paving and solid oak benches.

The work will include the restoration of the ‘Tree of Life’ cast bronzes which were originally placed in the garden for the Millennium celebrations in 1988.

A number of suggested features in the park’s refurbishment plan have proven controversial, however.

Controversies

Screenshot 2019-02-15 at 20.19.07 The official opening of the Peace Garden in 1988. Source: Dublin City Council

The first was to remove a plinth wall and railings to create an open public space.

At a recent Dublin City Council meeting, it was stated that this “generated a lot of concern with local residents” and so the plinth wall and railing will remain in place.

There is also an offer from the Government of Flanders to partner with Dublin City on a memorial to the 50,000 Irishmen who died in the Flanders fields “to bring people together in reflection about war and peace, about sacrifice and suffering, about tolerance and hope, about forgiveness and reconciliation”. 

Screenshot 2019-02-15 at 20.24.52 - Edited Source: Dublin City Council/Flanders Fields Memorial Proposal

The memorial involves bringing soil collected by local children in Flanders to a landscape feature in Dublin. 

It was suggested that this memorial, incorporating Irish soil, could be incorporated into the Peace Garden.

Dublin City Council’s commemorations subcommittee were briefed on this proposal at their January 2018 meeting; four members of the committee opposed the Flanders Memorial.

It had been argued previously by councillors including the former Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha and the current Lord Mayor Nial Ring, that it would be inappropriate to have a war memorial in a ‘peace’ garden or park.

In February, Mac Donncha met with representatives to discuss the Flanders Memorial; the option of placing it in the War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge instead was explored but ultimately rejected.

In March an updated report is expected, after which a consultation will be held with local residents.  

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