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Archive for August, 2010

I do love Dunnes Stores, you could have a whole blog devoted to them.

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Remember, Remember

In May 1798, between 36 and 40 United Irishmen were herded onto the fair green in front of the parish church in Dunlavin in County Wicklow, and shot, watched by their neighbours and families. All but a few died; it is said that one who didn’t die immediately objected to the bodies being looted by the soldiers’ wives, and so he was shot again, dead this time.

Well-known local historian Chris Lawlor recounted the events surrounding 24th May in The Massacre of Dunlavin Green, published for the 200th anniversary of the massacre, in 1998. That year a memorial to the dead men was erected outside the church,and the site of their burial in a pit at Tournant graveyard was marked by a small memorial stone. The neglected graveyard holds the remains of other Dunlavin people, some of whom died as recently as the 1920s, people whose grandchildren could easily still be alive, but nettles and stickyweed mount the shoulders of the cracked and eroded headstones, and you can’t beat a path from one side of the graveyard to the other.

I don’t know if it’s the local authority or the church who bears responsibility for the upkeep of the burial ground, nor even who owns the lands now, but surely someone could rise to a strimmer? Our tendency to play fast and loose with our heritage is no revelation, we’ve been happy enough to chuck away a Viking excavation site here, or demolish a terrace of Georgian houses there. Can’t be helped, they said, we need a new civic office (or an electricity board headquarters) instead. Public interest. Balance of convenience. Shocking cost of maintaining old buildings. Dry rot. Objections? Overruled. When I was about seventeen or eighteen my father told me about some planning argument over the Merrion Hall building just off Merrion Square. This will be interesting, he said, let’s keep an eye on this. I was only half-listening. Some months later he hustled us out the hall door into the evening, down past Government Buildings to watch, appalled, the fire that gutted the Merrion Hall. The Davenport Hotel was plonked, sharpish, on the nearly-cooled cinders.

But back to Dunlavin – there can’t be much weighing-up of interests here, can there? At what cost would the maintenance of this small but important graveyard come?

Memorial stones will not do our remembering for us.

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