The Irish Rebellion of 1798 was an uprising against British rule in Ireland from May to September 1798. The United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary group influenced by the ideas of the American and French revolutions, were the main organising force behind the rebellion. It was led by Presbyterians angry at being shut out of power by the Anglican establishment, joined by Catholics, who made up the majority of the population. Many Irish Protestants sided with the British, resulting in the conflict taking on the appearance of a sectarian civil war in many areas, with atrocities on both sides. A French army which landed in County Mayo in support of the rebels was overwhelmed by British and loyalist forces. The uprising was suppressed by British Crown forces with a death toll of between 10,000 and 30,000.
It is not often that I get a chance to photograph this as the park is usually full of children and their parents.
St. Michan’s park was first developed by Dublin Corporation as a park in 1898 and was refurbished by the parks division between 1996-7. Facilities include a toddlers’ play area, a handball alley and seating with associated shrub plantings.
Éire 1798 Memorial (1903) Artist Unknown Commissioned by Dublin Corporation.
The statue of Éire is the central feature of the park. It is positioned on a raised area of the green with a high pedestal; and dated at the base to 1903. This date puts the installation of the statue at some five years after the park opened. When the site was transformed into a public park the mound had been designed to hold a memorial and the pedestal was installed by at least 1899.
The site was inherently political due to its association with Newgate prison, the walls of which were consciously retained as the outline of the park. Newgate Prison was where many United Irishmen (here commemorated in relief tablets around the base) were incarcerated and this monument was raised to commemorate the centenary of the death of rebel leader, Robert Emmet.
Éire’s demeanour is subdued and downcast, holding a funerary wreath, a wolfhound looks up at her from one side and in the background the nationalist symbol of the high cross is clearly visible. The base of the monument has an inscription in Irish script with reference to the history of the prison. It reads:
Within this park once stood Newgate prison Associated in dark and evil days with the doing to death of Confessors of Irish liberty who gave their lives to vindicate Their country’s right to National independence This memorial is erected to perpetuate their memory To honour their motives and to inculcate a grateful reverence In Irish minds for sacrifices thus nobly made For freedom and to proclaim Ireland’s fidelity To the principles of the men whose names are heron inscribed In the belief that these will yet redeem and Regenerate our fatherland for subjection
The name of the sculptor that created this statue is unknown.
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