Visiting the National Monument, Cork City, Ireland: Remembering Pre-1916 Republicans
Plus some indications of Irish Rebublicanism's future?
[Addendum: Having corresponded, in preparing this very brief commentary, with Dr. Martin Mansergh — former Irish minister and adviser to successive Fianna Fáil Taoisigh — I am grateful to Dr. Mansergh for his courtesy and forbearance; these my comments - in all their inadqueacy, remain entirely my own. Perhaps the fact that I grew up in Latin America has something to do with my instinctive focus upon the late 18th century as regards the roots of republican thought. MJFenn]
This stone monument in Cork City (Irish: Corcaigh), Ireland, which recently recently underwent refurbishment, is situated at Grand Parade (Irish: Sráid an Chapaill Bhuí), near the Lee River (Irish: An Laoi).
Some history and features
Known as the National Monument, the structure commemorates patriots who lived between 1867 and back to 1798, to the original Irish Republican, Wolf Tone. Others depicted are Michael Dwyer, Thomas Davis, Peter O'Neill Crowley, plus, allegorically, Mother Erin.
The monument, executed in early Irish Gothic style, with its arching and its series of stone pinnacles, was designed by architect D J Coakley. The statues were sculpted by J F Davis.
The ashlar stone work of the monument is complemented by the use of marble. The monument's height is 14.6 metres and its breadth at the base is 4.6 metres.
The structure was unveiled on St Patrick's Day, 1906. Among the large numbers of people present at its unveiling was prominent Republican J. O'Donovan Rossa.
In recent years, commemorations appear to have come full circle in Ireland. Queen Elizabeth II visited the Garden of Remembrance (Irish: An Gairdín Cuimhneacháin). Dublin (Irish: Baile Átha Cliath) in 2011. Furthermore, representatives of Sinn Féin have attended British Legion events.
Interestingly, current debate about the future of the historic Irish Republican party Fianna Fáil , given its low vote in the 2011 Irish elections to Dáil Éireann , discusses the place of its Republican ideology in any eventual recovery of fortunes for the Party. What is not always realized is that, beyond the events of 1916 Rising with which Fianna Fáil 's founder, Éamon de Valera (1882-1975) was intimately associated, Ireland already had a strong Republican — as opposed to Home Rule Nationalist — tradition.
Indeed, some adherents of Fianna Fáil look back to 1798 as much as to 1916 as being their original ideological inspiration. It may be speculated that, as well as appraisals of the events of 1916, interpreting this older, Republican tradition may play a part in the future of Fianna Fáil ,
(But, then, it could be said, who am I to make speculative observations about the traditions and possible future of Fianna Fáil ?)
April 2, 2012
Also worth seeing
How to get there: Aer Lingus flies from New York and Boston to Dublin Airport, from where car rental is available. Bus Éireann operates bus services to Cork City from Dublin's Busárus (bus station). Irish Rail operates rail services from Dublin Heuston Station to Cork City. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.