A symbol of France’s tribute to Ireland [fr]
The France-Ireland Memorial intends to recall, honour and pay tribute to the contribution of Irish men and women to the defence and freedom of France.
The main part of the monument consists of 3 meter-high upright raw Irish-blue limestones, representing the land of Ireland, leaning up against one another in the style of Celtic megalithic constructions,a common historical heritage between the two countries. The whole is surmounted by a Celtic cross bringing the total height of the monument to more than 7 metres. On the stones, an extract from a tribune published in 1928 in The Irish Times by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies, Marshal Foch, is engraved in Gaelic, English and French. It underlines the bravery of all the Irish soldiers in France during the First World War.
“Some of the flower of Irish chivalry rests in the cemeteries that have been reserved in France, and the French people will always have these reminders of the debt that France owes to Irish valour. We shall always see that the graves of these heroes from across the sea are lovingly tended, and we shall try to ensure that the generations that come after us shall never forget the heroic dead of Ireland.”
A path made of stones, intentionally left rough to remind the brutality of combat, leads to the monument. On the sides, three monumental helmets of the Irish, French and English soldiers lay on large stone blocks. On each one is engraved, in mixed fonts and languages, tributes by the French Department for Defense, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the name of the artists. The bronze material symbolizes the fire in the battlefield.
The whole artwork is built as a mix of symbols of remembrance and of the two cultures brought together in a common area. It pays tribute to the contribution of Irish men and women to the defence and freedom of France. The Celtic cross is a replica of the Ginchy cross which pays tribute to the 4,354 Irishmen of the 16th Division who bravely fought and died in the Battle of the Somme and, by extension, it commemorates all the Irish from around the world who fought in the Allied Armies. As another reference to the Celtic culture, the cross surmounting the monument follows the axis of the sun from east to west. On the day of the solstice, the cross will therefore be illuminated all day long.
This Memorial, erected one hundred years after the First World War in Glasnevin Cemetery, final resting place of many of those Veterans who fought in France, represents a living testimony of the everlasting friendship between the people of France and the people of Ireland, honoring to the sacrifice and commitment of the Irish people.