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Ceremony marks laying of foundation stone for cross of sacrifice

31 March 2014

On 31 March, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), in partnership with the Glasnevin Trust, marked the completion of the first phase of work to erect a Cross of Sacrifice at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

This significant phase of the project was marked with the laying of a foundation stone by The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, The Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers, MP and The Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, TD.

Also in attendance were the British Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Dominick Chilcott, Deirdre Mills, Director UK Operations, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Chairman of Glasnevin Trust, John Green.

The Cross of Sacrifice at Glasnevin is the first to be erected in the Republic of Ireland. It will be an important addition to the cemetery's existing memorial walls, which honour servicemen who died in the First and Second World Wars, and compliments the work the CWGC and the Trust recently completed to identify and mark more than 200 war graves within the cemetery.

Designed for the CWGC after the First World War, by renowned architect Sir Reginald Blomfield, the Cross of Sacrifice represents the faith of the majority and the human sacrifice of all Commonwealth war dead.

The Cross of Sacrifice is embedded with a bronze sword and can be found in cemeteries across the globe, wherever Commonwealth servicemen were laid to rest during and after the two world wars.

Deirdre Mills, the CWGC's Director of UK Operations, said: "The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is delighted that our joint initiative to erect a Cross of Sacrifice in Glasnevin Cemetery has reached this important milestone.

"Work to complete the Cross is on target, and when complete, it will become an important focus for ongoing remembrance of those who died in the two world wars.

We are extremely grateful to the Irish Government, public, and the Glasnevin Trust, all of whom have done so much to support our work of commemoration and remembrance in Ireland."

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Deenihan said: "In this centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War, on the foundation stone we lay today, a great memorial cross will be erected in remembrance of all those who lost their lives in that war and in the conflict that engulfed Europe and the world in 1939. This monument will be completed to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War later this year, and will be a poignant reminder - for this and future generations - of the many thousands from Ireland who died in those wars and especially the 208 soldiers who are buried in Glasnevin." 

Addressing the gathering John Green, Chairman Glasnevin Trust said: "This project is a symbol of how Ireland has moved on and matured in its attitude towards our country men and women who bravely gave their lives in World War 1 and World War 2.  It is playing a significant part in helping to reconcile the social wounds that emerged almost a century ago when the different forms of personal sacrifice of Ireland's youth both in the Great War and the Easter Rising were harshly compared to each other. While we are still reflecting on how we treated different allegiances and traditions over the last 100 years, we might also consider the powerful symbolism of Daniel O'Connell's stated purpose in establishing Glasnevin Cemetery - 'to bury people of all religions and none'.  We have diligently followed O'Connell's instruction, through all the conflicts, for 180 or so years here at Ireland's necropolis and will continue to do so."

The unveiling of the Cross will take place later this year, with both Irish and British representatives participating.

Click here to read the full media release.