Thursday, April 24, 2014

Protecting the most historic site in modern Ireland

Mise agus James Connolly Heron in Moore Street
I was in Dublin on Easter Sunday morning for the annual Sinn Féin commemoration to mark the Easter Rising of 1916. The Dublin event was one of hundreds organized by republicans to take place across the island of Ireland and in far off places. Not that you would have known from the coverage of the day’s events by RTE. Section 31 may be gone but sadly its legacy remains.

For regular readers of this blog you will already know of the concern I have about the government’s failure to properly plan for a Revolutionary Quarter in Dublin around the iconic sites that are linked to the Easter Rising. In particular, like many others, including relatives of the leaders who were executed, I believe the government’s proposals for the Moore Street National Monument, where the leaders met for the last time, to be woefully inadequate and shameful.

Republicans are determined to ensure that 2016, the 1916 Centenary, is marked in the most appropriate way possible, as a fitting popular acknowledgement of the past but also, and just as importantly, as a pointer to a better future.

In a sad metaphor of the state we live in, the Moore Street buildings that survived British bombardment in 1916 now face destruction from property developers who plan to reduce it to rubble and build a shopping centre in its place.

The deterioration of the National Monument which has languished in a vacant and neglected state for many years and the potential threat to the monument under a current planning application is a matter of serious concern to Sinn Féin and many other citizens.

So, on Sunday I launched ‘The 1916 Revolutionary Quarter. A vision for Dublin’s historic centre.’ A set of proposals published by Sinn Féin Átha Cliath.

The document is aimed at ensuring that the 1916 National Monument at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street is fully protected and preserved in its entirety as designated and that the surrounding buildings, streets and laneways are retained in such a manner that the potential to develop this area into a 1916 historic/cultural quarter can be fulfilled.

The last Headquarters of the 1916 leaders has come far closer to demolition than their place of execution in Kilmainham Jail.  Kilmainham provides an exact parallel with the National Monument in Moore Street. Kilmainham Jail stands today as one of the best preserved and documented and one of the most visited historical buildings in Europe.
Only for the dedication of a group of private citizens Kilmainham Jail would have fallen into ruin and would have been erased from our capital city. A group of volunteers, many of whom had themselves fought for Irish freedom, banded together and through voluntary work and campaigning they ensured that the Jail was saved and turned into a museum. Only then did the State step in.

Similarly, it was the efforts of private citizens, including relatives of the leaders and participants in the 1916 Rising, that saved 14-17 Moore Street from destruction thus far.
The buildings and lanes of history where the last act in the drama of the 1916 Easter Week Rising took place need to be preserved and enhanced. This part of the centre of our capital city needs to be cherished for its unique historical and educational value and for its heritage of revolutionary history.

For this to be possible, the entire terrace, 10 to 25 Moore Street, first needs to be protected, preserved and restored. The terrace must be seen as a unit, a block of buildings occupied by republican forces at the end of the Rising and the site, in No. 16, of the last meeting of the Provisional Government.

Lynn Boylan, mise agus James Connolly Heron
In addition, the Block encompassed by Moore Street, Henry Street/GPO/O’Connell St and Parnell St should be designated as a 1916 Revolutionary Quarter, with an Architectural survey of the block to be carried and original features and shop fronts to be preserved and restored.

The 1916 Revolutionary Quarter would have ample scope for commercial and retail development, helping to rejuvenate this neglected part of our capital. A special aim would be to renew and sensitively develop the traditional small shop and street trading role of Moore Street (as recommended by the Dublin City Council Moore Street Advisory Committee Report).

The 1916 Revolutionary Quarter could also link up with the plan for the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter, including the new Central Library, the Garden of Remembrance and the Municipal Gallery, thus rejuvenating a very large part of the centre of Ireland’s capital city.

It is imperative that the Government act without further delay to ensure the full preservation of the national monument and to develop a plan to transform the GPO/Moore Street area into an historic quarter and battlefield site so as to protect and preserve the 1916 National Monument and the associated streetscapes and laneways, thus greatly enhancing our national heritage and tourist potential in our capital city as we approach the centenary of the Easter Rising.

In his last letter before his execution in Kilmainham Jail, on 8 May 1916, Eamonn Ceannt wrote:

“In the years to come Ireland will honour those who risked all for her honour at Easter in 1916.”

 We should live up to those words.
The Sinn Féin proposals for the National Monument on Moore Street and for the Revolutionary Quarter can be accessed through the Sinn Féin website at



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