A plan to honour victims of institutional child abuse in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin is being opposed by campaigners,writes Siobhán Maguire.
The Department of Education and the Office of Public Works want to erect a memorial
at the garden on Parnell Square, as recommended in the Ryan report, published by a
commission into child abuse.
The chosen design, entitled Journey of Light, is by Studio Negri and Hennessy & Associates, an architectural firm in Dublin. It has divided groups representing survivors of child abuse who say the proposed location would link it to an existing memorial to Irish
freedom fighters. The base of the Spire on O’Connell Street or the grounds
of Leinster House on Kildare Street are among some of the alternative locations being
suggested by those objecting.
Mannix Flynn, an independent Dublin councillor, said such a memorial did not belong
at a location with strong links to church and state. “The crucifix that is at the centre of the
Garden of Remembrance, the sculpture of the Children of Lir and the Irish flag all form part of a cultural heritage that was deeply involved with the inhumane treatment of the children it now wishes to atone to through a memorial at this site,” he said.
In his planning objection Nial Ring, another independent councillor, said: “Irish men and women who carried the vision of freedom and equality before them, and gave their lives as such, should not be tarnished with a memorial relating to a shameful part of Irish history. Both the fight for freedom and child abuse should be separately acknowledged.”
A planned revamp of the Garden of Remembrance, which was visited by Queen
Elizabeth last year, includes a €500,000 subterranean memorial, a covered walkway and a new civic area. The Irish Georgian Society, a conservation group, objected to
the memorial on the grounds that it “will provide a dank unsafe space which will attract
The group wrote: “While the society is cognisant of the importance of creating such a
memorial, we strongly disagree with the location and configuration of the current proposal.
“Parnell Square is one of the finest of Dublin’s 18th-century urban set-pieces. Regrettably
over the years the area has experienced neglect which has led to the deterioration of many historic houses, while poor development decisions have resulted in a cluttered expansion of building and services in the Rotunda Hospital.” Alice Hanratty, an artist and member of Aosdana, the self selected academy of artists, said it was “astonishing” to put a memorial “in the sacred space set aside to honour those who
sacrificed their lives for our country’s freedom”.
In September, Dublin city councillors backed a motion by Flynn to delay building of the memorial. The winning design, announced in July, is for a passageway
that will include the wording of the state’s apology to those who were abused while in its care.