Scary stories from a lovely place
On one of our last days in Ireland Stephen and I took another lovely bus ride into downtown Dublin. We took in many last things together, but the most important was the Garden of Remembrance at the top of O’Connell St.
The Garden of Remembrance is a sombre, thoughtful place. It’s sunk metres into the ground, creating a still peacefulness. The memorial is right in the centre of the action of O’Connell St, but in the garden itself is like being alone in an important place. A place for thought and reflection.
The garden is a shallow, mosaic encrusted cross, overwhelmingly long and beautiful.
The design covering the floor of the pool is golden shields, broken spears and sharp swords lain over zig-zagging greens and blues.
At the head of the cross one ascends some stairs to look upon a frightening portrayl of The Children of Lir, who were three children of the Lord of the Sea. According to the mythology they were turned into swans by their jealous Aunt and stepmother, who was bitter about their love for their Father. It’s a story of bondage and suffering; a very sad story serrated by loss.
Written in gold on the wall is Gaelic script.
This is the English translation:
In the darkness of despair we saw a vision. We lit the light of hope. And it was not extinguished. In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision. We planted the tree of valour. And it blossomed.
In the winter of bondage we saw a vision. We melted the snow of lethargy. And the river of resurrection flowed from it.
We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river. The vision became a reality. Winter became summer. Bondage became freedom. And this we left to you as your inheritance.
O Generations of freedom remember us, the Generations of the vision.
It was too much for me. Standing next to my serious Irish husband, having just gazed at the bright greens and golds in the pool and wondered at the children being imprisoned in the bodies of elegant swans in the statue I started crying. I had been soaking my mind in Irish history, reading of oppression, revolution, death, poverty and executions. A few days previously we had visited Kilmainham Jail and I had seen the spot where the 1916 Easter Rebels were shot, looked in on the cells of their wives and sons and gasped at the nasty conditions petty criminals were subjected to during the Great Famine. Just minutes prior to visiting the Garden of Remembrance we had walked past the GPO and seen the bullet damaged columns where the Easter Rebellion slowly initiated Ireland’s eventual freedom from British rule.
As I considered all of that suffering and loss of life I knew that similar things were continuing on in other countries today. I know that I belong to the Generation of Freedom, as do my children. And I don’t want to forget Ireland’s Generations of the Vision, or those others struggling similarly elsewhere in the world.
Stephen’s reply to my tears was a firm hug and: “no more Irish history for you.”