On the city’s outskirts lie the War Memorial Gardens – a 60 hectare space which is a memorial to over 49,000 Irish soldiers who died serving in the British Army in the First World War. The gardens’ actual construction in the 1930s was completed with a workforce of 250 ex-British Army and 250 ex-Irish Army servicemen. It was sadly allowed fall into neglect for many years before it was restored in the 1980s.
Islandbridge should be visited for the architecture alone. But also come here to get a small insight into Irish history. For many years the role and fate of Irishmen who served in the British Army in World War I were forgotten and ignored by an Ireland keen to emphasise its struggle for independence. However, in recent years, Ireland’s role in the Great War has been looked at again and this time with more a balanced perspective. These well-tended and beautiful gardens are a reminder of a distant but still important episode in Irish history.
The Gardens contain four granite bookrooms which hold Books of Remembrance in which the names of the Irish soldiers are written. One of the bookrooms also holds the Ginchy Cross, a wooden cross originally erected after the Battle of the Somme in which an Irish division fought. The rooms are normally locked but any of the helpful garden’s staff will open them for visitors.
Take bus 25A and 25B from Merrion Square and get off a few stops after Heuston Station.