Dublin’s Northsiders have traditionally been the subject of jokes from their Southside neighbors. South of the River Liffey you find Trinity College, Grafton Street, the National Gallery, Museum of Ireland and much more. North of the river, there’s not quite so much. The banter between the two sides is lighthearted but the north side has some things to be rightly proud of. Possibly my favorite site to see while traveling around Dublin is the Garden of Remembrance which is located in Parnell Square just across the street from the Dublin City Gallery and the Writers Museum. Fifty years after the 1916 Easter Rising the garden was opened by three-time President Eamon De Valera in honor of all those who died in pursuit of Irish independence. As you enter the garden your eyes are immediately drawn to the large Children of Lir sculpture at the far end of the garden with the Irish Republic flag waving above it.
The sculpture was created by the artist Oisin Kelly as a sign of rebirth and resurrection. The Irish legend is the story of Lir who was outraged after Bodb Derg was elected king of the Tuatha Dé Danann. In an effort to please Lir the new king sent one of his daughters, Aoibh, to be Lir’s wife. After having four children Aoibh dies leaving her husband and children distraught. Bodb Derg sends a second daughter, Aoife, to be Lir’s new wife. Angry and jealous over the children’s love for their father and dead mother, Aoife unsuccessfully plots to kill the children. Instead she chooses to magically turn them into chained swans waiting 900 years for freedom. When the curse is finally lifted and the chains are broken the children are again human but old and withered, symbolizing Ireland’s long fight for freedom.
Left of the statue is a poem written by Liam Marc Uiarin in traditional aisling style. Titled We Saw a Vision the poem furthermore illustrates Ireland’s dream and path to successfully attaining their independence.
We Saw A Vision
In the darkness of despair we saw a vision,
We lit the light of hope and it was not extinguished.
In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision.
We planted the tree of valour and it blossomed.
In the winter of bondage we saw a vision.
We melted the snow of lethargy and the river of resurrection flowed from it.
We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river. The vision became a reality.
Winter became summer. Bondage became freedom and this we left to you as your inheritance.
O generations of freedom remember us, the generations of the vision.