Glasnevin memorial wall for dead to be discontinued after repeated vandalism

Glasnevin Memorial Wall For Dead To Be Discontinued After Repeated Vandalism
The wall erected at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin to remember all those who died in the Irish Revolution is being discontinued after repeated vandalism. Photo: PA Images
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A necrology wall erected at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin to remember all those who died in the Irish Revolution is being discontinued due to safety and vandalism concerns.

The wall set out to name all those who died in Irish conflicts between 1916 and 1923, and it was anticipated that it would include more than 4,000 names.


The board of the Dublin Cemeteries Trust took the decision after an “extensive debate”, its chairman David Bunworth told The Irish Times.

He said the wall had been vandalised three times and it would be impossible to stop a fourth such incident.

Instead, he said the trust would erect a separate memorial to all those who died in the 1916-1923 period, along with a book commemorating the dead from that period who are buried in the cemetery.


The wall at Glasnevin was inspired by the Ring of Remembrance at Ablain-Saint-Nazaire in France which, from 2014, has remembered 580,000 soldiers from all sides killed in the first World War.


It was unveiled during the Easter Rising commemorations in April 2016. Some objected to it on the basis that it remembered those in British uniform who had died, as well as those killed fighting for Irish freedom.

The wall was first damaged in April 2017 when paint was thrown over it. The paint was removed by cemetery staff, but the gold inlay of the wall’s lettering also came away.

A security camera was installed, but a more serious attack happened in February of 2020. Vandals used a sledgehammer to remove the names of some British soldiers killed in the Rising. In doing so, they also damaged the names of some Irish Volunteers.

A tarpaulin was erected a short time later, but a third attack followed.


The vandalism was getting worse and worse every time it happened

“The vandalism was getting worse and worse every time it happened,” Mr Bunworth said. “We expected that it would be vandalised again.”

The trust considered a range of options to repair and keep the wall in its current format, including extra security, alternative viewing spaces and enclosing the wall in a protective layer.

However, it concluded that no option could provide a viable, long-term solution given the inevitability of further attacks on the memorial.


Additional security around the wall could have seen vandals target other graves in the cemetery connected with the Irish Revolution, it said.

“We never wanted to be divisive. We have taken the decision with great regret,” Mr Bunworth said. “We had a lot of regret about this. We won’t be able to highlight every name and individual, but we will remember everybody in a standalone monument in the cemetery.”

He added that the names of those who died in the Easter Rising have to be removed because the wall was vandalised beyond repair.

'Victory for bullies'

Dublin City Council independent councillor Cieren Perry said the decision was a “victory for common sense and most importantly a victory for those of us who revere, admire and respect those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of our country”.


Former Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan meanwhile said the decision by the Trust was a “victory for bullies”.

Broadcaster Joe Duffy, who wrote a book on the children who died in the Easter Rising, said he was dismayed that the names of those children were being removed along with all the others who died in the Easter Rising.

He intends to hold a protest with relatives of the children involved on Friday afternoon beside the wall.

“I am deeply saddened and shocked that vandalism and thuggery has triumphed in removing the only memorial in the world that names the children and the civilian men and women killed that week,” he said.

“They are our history. Many are buried in unmarked graves. Surely our mature country can remember all those who died - most of them Irish - regardless of the uniform they wore.”

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