While prominently located on the main street of Bundoran, with a beautiful view out across the Atlantic Ocean, you will not find reference to the Republican Garden (of Remembrance) in the town’s primary tourist brochure ‘Discover Bundoran’ or on the website of the same name. Clearly this is not something that will be to everyone’s taste and many will find it distasteful.
The paved garden, which is a collection of plaques and a rather nice Irish cross, as depicted in my main picture, was established in 2005 by the Hunger Strike Commemorative Committee. It acts as focal point to remember not only the 10 hunger strikers in HM Prison Maze, Northern Ireland who starved themselves to death in 1981, in their demand to be treated as political prisoners as opposed to terrorists, but also to remember ‘all who gave their lives for the freedom of Ireland’.
Each one of the ten 1981 hunger strikers (you can read more about this hunger strike in my review of the Hunger Strike Memorial in Londonderry/Derry) is remembered by a individual plaque on the garden walls. The centre plaque in picture 2 above remembers Bobby Sands, the first of the 10 to die and at the time a Member of Parliament, having secured a seat in a by-election, purely to promote his cause and having no intent of ever taking up his seat in Westminster. It is worth noting that while these are the most famous of Irish hunger strikers they were not the first. A separate plaque lists the names of another 10 who died on hunger strike between 1917 and 1946. Interestingly half of these died in the independent Irish Free State, after its partition from the United Kingdom.
Also in the garden you will find plaques to the memory of:
• ‘first generation’ Irish Republicans (1798 – 1803 – United Irishmen like Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet)
• Robert Emmet (1788 -1803), the last person sentenced in a British court to be hung drawn and quartered
• ‘those Irish (1,000,000) who died of British inflicted mass starvation and disease.’ between 1845-52 and ‘another 1,000,000 …. were forced to take the coffin ships to emigrate”. The plaque, in the writer’s attempt to update the generally recorded view of Irish history, reminds us that this period which is ‘Often mistakenly referred to as the Famine… was truely an act of British policy inspired genocide through starvation’.
• the mothers and women of Ireland
• those who gave their lives from each of Ireland’s four provinces (picture 3 – Connacht and Ulster)
• those who were executed and otherwise died in 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin (picture 4)
• Sligo’s Noble Six (1920s)
• those who died in the 1920 – 21 War of Independence, Republicans lost in the 1921-23 Civil War and all Republicans who have died since the Civil War.
While the garden’s central Irish cross commemorates a number of specific volunteers, under it is buried a time capsule containing documents together with 17 miniature delph caskets containing soil or stones from the graves of 17 people remembered in the garden.
As you make your way out of the garden there is a ‘headstone’ (picture 5) which petitions you thus:
We believe in Wolfe Tone
Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.
Break the connection with England
We ask you as you leave here today
to spare a thought – a prayer
for All who gave their lives for
and all who died because
of England’s Occupation.
Let us honour all with
Dignity and Respect
The Real Terrorists are
the occupiers the World Over.
Very clearly a one sided representation of events but worth visiting, nonetheless.
Address: Main Street
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on Bundoran, Ireland. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Rougey Cliff Walk – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – On The Wild Atlantic Way.