The Glasnevin Wall

Glasnevin Cemetry in Dublin is in many ways our Arlington Cemetry. Our great heroes in many fields are buried here. Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Kevin Barry, Countess Markievicz are buried here. So is Luke Kelly (musician), Liam Whelan (footballer) and Brendan Behan (writer). I have been there on a few occasions.

To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916, a sculpture listing the names of those who died was constructed.

There was some controversy as the “Vietnam-style” wall listed members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who lost their lives. It was…inclusive.

It has been pointed out that the memorial to the Vietnam War victims only lists American dead. And the memorial to the Alamo (which I have seen in San Antonio) only lists the defenders of the Alamo.

The Glasnevin Wall has been subject to vandalism and so t will be closed…cancelled.

I think that the Centenary of the Easter Rising was the only real success in the Decade of Centenaries.

It was the seminal event in modern Irish history. Pre-Easter 1916 and post Easter 1916 were two different places. As such it was inclusive.

Take a look at these stamps which were issued to commemorate the Centenary of the Easter Rising. Police Constable James O’Brien was the gatekeeper at Dublin Castle on Easter Monday and the first man to die in the Rebellion. He was shot dead by Captain Seán Connolly of the Irish Citizen Army. Captain Connolly would later be shot dead. Side by side on a stamp.

The Malone Brothers…one of the great heroes of that week was Lt Michael Malone who was commanding a unit at Mount Street Bridge. Several members of the Sherwood Foresters were killed by him personally. He was killed that week. His brother William was killed a year earlier fighting with the Dublin Fusiliers. Side by side on a stamp.

The woman is Louisa Nolan who risked her life to attend the dead and wounded British at Mount Street.

Sir Francis Fletcher Vane, the honourable British officer who reported the deliberate killing of civilians by British troops and Francis Sheehy Skeffington, the pacifist who was one such victim, killed on the orders of Captain J C Bowen-Colthurst.

In their own way, they played a part in Easter 1916 and whatever we have now is in part due to these people and people like them.

Too inclusive? No I don’t think so.

But not everyone agrees. You can see that on the “Malone” stamp, someone thought that William was an unworthy of being featured on an Irish stamp. Yet defacing it with adhesive white paper just seems a petty and insulting act of vandalism.

Some might say that the Glasnevin Wall was overly inclusive. And unionists in Norn Iron, who always have a reason to whinge about not being loved enough in the Republic of Ireland might take the vandalism as a personal insult and the decision to “cancel” the Wall as giving in to Criminality.

On the other hand, people like me might say that more than 3,500 people died in The Troubles (1969-98) and there is no official monument in Belfast to commemorate them. We just could not agree in including all of the victims.

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