PHOTOGRAPHED BY WILLIAM MURPHY
St. Michan’s park was first developed by Dublin Corporation as a park in 1898 and was refurbished by the parks division between 1996-7. Facilities include a toddlers’ play area, a handball alley [which was closed for many months and may not be operational even now] and seating with associated shrub plantings.
As you may have noticed from my photographs the statue of Erin is the central feature of Saint Michan’s Park.
Éire 1798 Memorial (1903)
Commissioned by Dublin Corporation.
The statue of Éire is positioned on a raised area of the green with a high pedestal; and dated at the base to 1903. This date puts the installation of the statue at some five years after the park opened. When the site was transformed into a public park the mound had been designed to hold a memorial and the pedestal was installed by at least 1899.
The site was inherently political due to its association with Newgate prison, the walls of which were consciously retained as the outline of the park. Newgate Prison was where many United Irishmen (here commemorated in relief tablets around the base) were incarcerated and this monument was raised to commemorate
the centenary of the death of rebel leader, Robert Emmet.
Éire’s demeanour is subdued and downcast, holding a funerary wreath, a wolfhound looks up at her from one side and in the background the nationalist symbol of the high cross is clearly visible. The base of the monument has an inscription in Irish script with reference to the history of the prison. It reads:
Within this park once stood Newgate prison
Associated in dark and evil days with the doing to death of
Confessors of Irish liberty who gave their lives to vindicate
Their country’s right to National independence
This memorial is erected to perpetuate their memory
To honour their motives and to inculcate a grateful reverence
In Irish minds for sacrifices thus nobly made
For freedom and to proclaim Ireland’s fidelity
To the principles of the men whose names are heron inscribed
In the belief that these will yet redeem and
Regenerate our fatherland for subjection