National Day of Commemoration (Lá Cuimhneacháin Náisiúnta) held on the nearest Sunday to this date commemorating all Irish people who died in past wars or United Nations peacekeeping missions.

In Ireland, the National Day of Commemoration/Lá Cuimhneacháin Náisiúnta, commemorates all Irish people who died in past wars or United Nations peacekeeping missions. It occurs on the Sunday nearest 11 July, the anniversary of the date in 1921 that a truce was signed ending the Irish War of Independence. The principal ceremony is held at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin.

The commemoration of Irish soldiers and wars has been fragmented within Ireland for historical and political reasons.

Ceremonies to honour Irish soldiers who fought in the First World War have been held in Ireland in November on Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day since the war’s end. These are mainly organised by the Royal British Legion and ex-servicemen and relatives. The focal points were St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, both in Dublin. Though many Irish nationalists served in the British Army prior to independence, this was not generally held in high esteem by later generations. Independent Ireland remained neutral in World War II, and although thousands of its citizens served in the allied armies, the state did not at first mark this.

Commemoration of the Irish War of Independence was muted by the bitterness of the Irish Civil War that followed from it. The preceding 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland was the focus, with Easter Day considered the “National Day of Commemoration”. There was a major parade each Easter until 1971, when the Troubles in the north of Ireland made the commemoration of the earlier Irish Republican rebels more problematic in symbolism. Smaller official commemorations persisted at Arbour Hill Prison.

Within the Defence Forces, a Commemoration Day for deceased former members is held on All Souls’ Day, 2 November. 11 July, the anniversary of the 1921 truce, had already been a special Army holiday before being the base date for the National Day of Commemoration.

In 1974, the coalition government proposed Saint Patrick’s Day as a day for commemorating all Irish people who had given their lives in wars, marked with a message from the President, prayer and a moment of silence. The Fianna Fáil opposition objected. In the early 1980s, in response to the Northern Ireland Troubles, the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in Co Wicklow was organising “Walks of Remembrance” around sites in Dublin significant to all historical combatants. In 1983, the Irish Defence Forces were represented in the British Legion’s Remembrance Sunday service in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, under the flag of the United Nations. This was controversial and the Fianna Fáil opposition suggested a separate day of commemoration would be more inclusive.

An informal Oireachtas all-party committee was established in late 1984 to examine the question of a single National Day of Commemoration. It held four meetings and reported to the government in October 1985. The view of this Committee was that there should be a religious service and a military ceremony. This has been the tradition since, although Noel Treacy complained that the military presence was “on a small-scale compared with that visualised by the all party committee”.

The first National Day of Commemoration was held on 13 July 1986 in the Garden of Remembrance. Old IRA veterans objected to the venue, which commemorates those who died in “the cause of Irish freedom”, being used to honour British Army veterans. The absence was noted of Leader of the Opposition, Charles Haughey, and Lord Mayor of Dublin, Bertie Ahern, both represented by subordinates. This was ascribed to discontent within Fianna Fáil about the event.

Haughey became Taoiseach after the February 1987 election. He announced the commemoration ceremony would be replaced by separate church services by the various denominations, with no military or government presence. The opposition parties objected, and both sides negotiated a compromise, whereby the ceremony, and the commemorative plaque which had been unveiled in 1986 by President Patrick Hillery, were moved to the Royal Hospital. This, originally a British Army hospital, is now the Irish Museum of Modern Art. However Irish Republicans and IRA veterans of the Irish War of Independence objected to the presence of the British Legion at the ceremony. Subsequent ceremonies have not proved controversial.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

In Ireland, the National Day of Commemoration/Lá Cuimhneacháin Náisiúnta, commemorates all Irish people who died in past wars or United Nations peacekeeping missions. It occurs on the Sunday nearest 11 July, the anniversary of the date in 1921 that a truce was signed ending the Irish War of Independence. The principal ceremony is held at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin.

The commemoration of Irish soldiers and wars has been fragmented within Ireland for historical and political reasons.

Ceremonies to honour Irish soldiers who fought in the First World War have been held in Ireland in November on Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day since the war’s end. These are mainly organised by the Royal British Legion and ex-servicemen and relatives. The focal points were St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, both in Dublin. Though many Irish nationalists served in the British Army prior to independence, this was…

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St. Munchin, the patron saint of Limerick

St. Munchin is the peculiar patron saint for Limerick city as he is renowned for cursing the natives of the city. He is thought to have said:

the stranger would flourish and the native would perish.

This due to the natives of the city not assisting him as he was erecting his church in the city, while those passing through aided him without question.

As for Munchin himself, his background is up for debate and it is possible that there were multiple men called Munchin or Little Monk. One legend states that he was the nephew of Bloid, a king of Thomond while another states that he was one of three sons of Setna, grandson to Cas, and great-grandson to Conell of the Dalgais who came from the area Lahinch and Ennistymon in Co.Clare.

It has been said that he founded the original St Munchin’s Church in Limerick city in 630, where the Church of Ireland church of that name stands today. He was attributed with founding a church called Cill Mainchín on Inis Sibhton. As well a church in the island of Fidh-Inis, which lies within the large estuary where the river Fergus enters the river Shannon. He was supposedly the founder of Mungret Monastery, though this monestry has also been attributed to St Patrick and St Nessan.

He was supposed to be the first Bishop of Limerick, though again this has no foundation. There’s little question that the Church of Limerick had a continued succession of bishops from a very early date as Limerick appears to have held rank among the cities of Ireland.

Though we know nothing factual about the man called Munchin, it is still unusual that although he was famed for cursing the city, that the city held him in such esteem to name him as the patron saint.

The feast day of St Munchin is celebrated on January 3rd.

Mainchín mac Setnai (fl. late 6th century), also anglicised to Munchin, was allegedly the founder of the church of Luimneach (now Limerick), Ireland, and a saint in Irish tradition, acquiring special eminence as patron of Limerick City. Both his origins and the date of his association with the city are debated.

Through his father Sétna, Mainchín is alleged to belong to the Dál Cais, given a pedigree linking him to the ancestors of the O’Brien dynasty. His tutor was the Corco Mruad saint Mac Creicheaccording to the Life of that saint. Mainchín is said to have founded Luimneach when Ferdomnach, king from the Dál Cais, granted him land at Inis Sibtond.

A major problem with the above is that the Dál Cais themselves are unknown by that name before the 930s and are believed by scholars to be the descendants of a Déisi population which migrated into the region at an uncertain period. Before the Dál Cais the greater region appears to have been dominated for a time by another people entirely, the Uí Fidgenti, who eventually found themselves much displaced by the Dál Cais in the second half of the 10th century and following, although after having previously overrun many of the Déisi themselves in the very same territories.

Mainchín is also the patron saint of Brug Ríg, now Bruree, the former royal seat of the Uí Fidgenti.

It has been argued that his appearance in Limerick is actually due to his adoption by the later Norse there, with whom the O’Donovan family, late representatives of the kingdom (although of uncertain origins themselves), were closely associated.

In fact no “successors” of Mainchín in Limerick are known before the 12th century and so his existence there cannot be verified before then.

In the Martyrology of Donegal, Mainchín’s feast day occurs on 29 December. In Bruree, his feast day is commemorated on 2 January, but this date may have been erroneously taken from that recorded for St Manchán (Manchéne) of Min Droichit in the Félire ÓengussoThe Roman Martyrology also lists January 2 as Mainchín of Limerick’s memorial.

Kavanagh’s two Dublin seats and an international resting spot

Come Here To Me!

O commemorate me where there is water,
Canal water preferably
Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother…

O commemorate me with no hero courageous
Tomb – just a canal bank seat for the passer-by.

It may come as a surprise, it certainly did to me, that Patrick Kavanagh is commemorated by not one but two seats along Dublin’s Grand Canal.

The one that is known to most Dubliners and tourists is the bench which has a life sized statue of Kavanagh sitting on one side. This was made by the sculpture John Coll and was unveiled in June 1991 by Mary Robinson. It is situated on the north bank of the Grand Canal on Mespil Road.

The second statue predates the first by 23 years and was unveiled only a few month’s after the poet’s death. It is a simple ‘wood and granite’ seat that was designed by the artist

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Harry Clarke – Artist in Glass

Harry Clarke Harry Clarke

There are few originals, but Harry Clarke most certainly was one of that rare breed. He was the third child of Henry Clarke (decorator from Leeds) who arrived in Dublin in 1877 and his wife, Brigid, and was born on St Patrick’s Day 1889.

He attended Model School (Marlborough Street) before going to nearby Belvedere College. After leaving in 1905 he took up an apprenticeship in his father’s studio, that by now had added a stained-glass section. Work was tough and his skills were soon noted in the Dublin Art School where he went to evening classes. In 1910 he work was recognised countrywide for the first time when his The Consecration of St. Mel, Bishop of Longford, by St Patrick won the gold medal for stained-glass work in the Board of Education National Competition.

Clarke's translucent brilliance Clarke’s translucent brilliance

Shortly afterwards he went to London and where he worked…

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Bewleys Cafe – a flavour of Dublin

Even as it approaches its ninetieth year, Bewleys Café is as familiar as a best friend and a place I have always enjoyed. From the moment you approach the shop, depending of course on the direction of the wind, the aroma of fine coffee is enticing. It’s unique, and is appreciated by the patrons who daily pack the quirky, old building.

Egyptian-inspired decoration Egyptian-inspired decoration

Famous pupils Famous pupils

It opened for business in 1927 after extensive refurbishment, and was inspired by the great Paris and Vienna cafes.   The exterior Egyptian decoration reflects the contemporary discovery of Tutankhamen’s Tomb in 1922. The stained glass windows that Harry Clarke created are the highlight of the café, and are really appreciated when lit by strong sunlight. In the late 18th century the building housed Whyte’s Academy, the school where Arthur Wellesley (future Duke of  Wellington) and Thomas Moore attended. Robert Emmet, from St Stephen’s Green, a…

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Thomas Moore – Melody Man

Thomas Moore Thomas Moore

Known as Ireland’s National Bard, Thomas Moore was born on 28 May 1779 at 12 Aungier Street, Dublin, above his father’s grocery shop. He had two younger sisters, and was interested in acting and music from an early age. He went to Whyte’s Academy on Grafton Street (now Bewley’s Café) before studying law at Trinity College. This was at the time of the 1798 Rebellion and he knew students who had been killed in the fighting. One of his most famous poem/songs The Minstrel Boy is considered to have been written in remembrance of these young men. Other compositions like The Last Rose of Summer and The Meeting of the Waters are perennial favourites.

Sweet vale of Avoca! how calm could I rest
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best,
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease,
And our…

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Samuel Whyte’s School on Grafton St

Wide and Convenient Streets

If thou must write and would’st thy works disperse, Write novels, sermons, anything but verse 

Samuel Whyte, from an engraving by Henry Brocas (National Library of Ireland - click to go to source) Samuel Whyte, from an engraving by Henry Brocas (National Library of Ireland – click to go to source)

The quote above is from a letter from Samuel Whyte to aspiring poetess Henrietta Battier in 1790. Sheila Hamilton writes that Whyte was not being cruel in offering this opinion, rather he was injecting a dose of realism: women had no formal education and hence found it difficult to be taken seriously as poets. (She continues that some still tried).

References to Whyte and his school—officially named the “Seminary for the Instruction of Youth”—on Grafton St permeate the literature about many of the great names of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He was born about 1733, and attended what was a famous school at Golden Lane, run by schoolmaster Samuel Edwards. He was the son of Solomon Whyte, and…

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