Navigate / search

Cenotaph & National Monument Re-dedication

Re-dedication of Monuments in Cork
May 2009

Report by Leo McMahon (Assoc. Member) Southern Star

 ‘An Act of historical ecumenism’ was how guest speaker Professor Dermot Keogh, History Department, University College Cork, described the ceremony
to re-dedicate the Cenotaph in South Mall and the National Monument in Grand Parade, Cork, which also marked the completion of the city streets renewal and boardwalk project.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Brian Bermingham who initiated the re-dedication,
said the National Monument was erected at the turn of the last century replacing a previous statue of King George III on horseback, a painting of which is in City Hall.

The monument represents the rebellions of the United Irishmen in 1798,
the one led by Robert Emmet in 1803,
the Young Irelanders’ in 1848 and the Fenian rising of 1857.

The Cenotaph, he continued was erected in 1925 to commemorate those who served in the First World War (1914-18) and who made the supreme sacrifice estimated at around 3,500 from both city and county of Cork.
Cllr.Bermingham said he was delighted, along with members of Oglaigh Naisiunta na hEireann Teo (ONET), the Royal British Legion, Irish United Nations ex-servicemen, Members of the old IRA and others to join with the public in paying tribute to the memory of those represented on both memorials.
‘How nice it is to have an event as todays, where each tradition shows respect for and acceptance of the other. Remembrance, reconciliation and accommodation between all traditions has been a central focus of my term as Lord Mayor

Prof. Keogh began his address by paying tribute to the Lord Mayor and organisers of what he believed were ‘one of the most important gatherings in the recent history of this great city’.

I believe that both monuments are expressions of long-standing, complex and inter-twined political and military traditions in Irish history , both above all else ,are expressions of solidarity with the memory of the dead of those traditions encompassing many nations and with their descendants ‘ he said .
I think one of the most appropriate ways of viewing today’s re-dedication ceremony is to see it as an act of historical ecumenism.
It is both an honest search for shared interpretation (in this case of historical events) that require no compromise of basic principles and an acceptance that to “agree to disagree” on the meaning of many of the same events is a sign of maturity rather than uncertainty or weakness.’

The Department of History in UCC for its part, said Prof. Keogh, was determined to ensure that a rounded view of understanding of the bona fides of all traditions locally and nationally.
‘I am pleased to be associated with a major research programme within my department which will use the anniversaries and centenaries of significant events over the next decade or so (e.g. Third Home Rule Crisis, World War 1, Easter Rising, War of Independence, World War II) to re-examine the impact of those events on, and in some cases their origins in Munster.
Prof. Keogh then quoted from a tribute to the Irish Forces by Marshal Foch in 1918: ‘ France will never forget her debt to the heroic Irish dead, and in the hearts of the French people today, their memory lives as that of the memory of old, preserved in the tales that the old people tell to their children and their children’s children

‘Their is something very striking about such words from the perspective of today’s event. In coming together today to mark the re-dedication of both monuments, we are, in our own way, acknowledging the best of the ideals of the diverse traditions they represent and the memory of those who fell in the service of those ideals’ said Prof. Keogh.
He praised the Lord Mayor, John Whittaker, British Legion and Pat Gunn old IRA and all others associated with it for taking the brave steps to facilitate something which not only demonstrated respect but also the potential for reconciliation.

The ceremony included a parade of colours, the laying of wreaths at both monuments by the Lord Mayor, the last post, a lament by a lone piper, the National Anthem followed by receptions in the City Hall and Cork County Cricket Club at the Mardyke .

Among the attendance were Michael Doyle, Billy Good and Ian Tatterstalls members of the Bandon War Memorial Committee.