Pery Square War Memorial

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The Memorial

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Perys Square War Memorial

The Pery square war memorial is a freestanding carved cross made from limestone on a plinth base. It is a cenotaph, an "empty tomb" or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. Although the vast majority of cenotaphs are erected in honour of individuals, many noted cenotaphs are instead dedicated to the memories of groups of individuals, such as the lost soldiers of one country or empire and commemorate notable individuals buried elsewhere, many cenotaphs pay tribute to people whose remains have never been located. It was erected circa 1950 in honour of the Limerick men who died while fighting in the First and Second world war. The memorial consists of stylishly carved Celtic knot work on the crucifix and a octagonal base with inscriptions on the front and back beneath a plaque in each case. The memorial is located on 3 octagonal bases made from granite on a traffic island on the west side of pery square.A simple and modest memorial to the World Wars, the impact of which is somewhat diminished by its scale on such a broad avenue. It is nonetheless, of important local and regional significance.(Buildingsofireland.ie, 2014)

The Front of the Memorial


The Wars

The war memorial in Perys square was erected in in honour of those who died during both world wars. Each war occurred during a tumultous time in Irelands history and the results of both had longlasting effects on the country. The men and women who were involved with the war efforrts waited many years before they received recognition for their bravery and service.

  • World War I
The Memorial


During World War I Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom and as such was obligated to join the war effort when war was declared in 1914. During this time there was a great deal of political unrest in Ireland and though intially there was support for the war on all sides this soon changed. 200,000 Irishmen volunteered for the war effort and of that number it is estimated that 30-40,000 died. While the fighting was going on in Europe, back home in Ireland the 1916 rising was taken place. This combined with the election of Sinn Féin in the 1918 Irish general election and the subsequent Irish War of Independence meant that the Ireland the servicemen were returning to was not a friendly place. They faced hostility, suspicion and were often intimidated by the IRA. Unfortunately due to a number of factors and largely the nationalist mind frame which was in place at the time it was many years before those who had fought and died in the war were commemorated officially in the Republic. Those who fought in the Great War were almost largely shunned and ignored in history for many years after.

  • World War II
The Memorial

Much the same as world war 1 the treatment received by those coming home from fighting in the trenches during world war 2 was deplorable. They were faced with open hostility and scorn. As Ireland was neutral during world war 2 the Irish volunteers were seen as anti-nationalists and their sacrifice was not recognised. After the war many kept their time served during the war a secret as the reaction they received was poisonous and hateful. Irelands coverage of the war was shocking and unlike the allied countries which had full coverage at the time, we did not have the same scale recognition and so there was a great deal of ignorance and the experiences of the soldiers was not fully understood by their countrymen. Though the full details of Nazi crimes became apparent and widespread knowledge ,the attitudes directed at the soldiers did not change. Nearly 50 years after their involvement the volunteers were finally acknowledged in 1995 by then Taoiseach John Bruton.

The Location

The Pery Square War memorial is located in Pery Square, a Georgian Terrace located in the Newtown Pery area of Limerick city, Ireland. The terrace was constructed as a speculative development by the Pery Square Tontine Company between 1835 and 1838. The architect James Pain supervised the construction of the terrace and may well have been responsible for the design. The contractor was Pierse Creagh, Ennis. Newtown Pery is an area of central Limerick, and forms the main CBD of the city. It is also the city's main retail district . The district is known for its Georgian architectural heritage and is the core area of Limerick's Georgian Quarter. It is one of the three towns that make up modern-day Limerick City Centre. Prior to the development of Newtown Pery, the historical City of Limerick was situated just north of the present day city centre. Originally the land south of the medieval city that was to become Newtown Pery was owned by the Franciscans and known as South Priors Land, however following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII this land was granted to Edmund Sexton of whom Edmund Sexton Pery was a descendant and on whom much of Georgian Limerick is credited. The development of Newtown Pery can be attributed to the work of Edmund Sexton Pery, 1st Viscount Limerick and his plan for the development of a new city on lands he owned to the south of the existing medieval city.By the turn of the 19th Century; Newtown Pery was rapidly growing as most fashionable area of the city; however the only crossing point on the Shannon remained at Thomond Bridge. In 1835, a new and second bridge was built over the Shannon forming another major river crossing connecting the west directly with Newtown Pery. The bridge - Sarsfield Bridge - cemented Newtown Pery's position as Limerick's premier urban district as connections to the area improved.The terrace at Pery Square was the last development of the great Georgian expansion of Limerick. The terrace itself was intended to be part of a Georgian square enclosing the People's Park,however the plans were never realised as the development coincided with the beginning of the Famine. Newtown Pery was a completely new greenfield development. Limerick's medieval city was left completely intact and remains to this day. Unfortunately Newtown Pery's position as the one time fashionable area of the city is long over. In addition to this, its Georgian heritage has been severely compromised, However, despite the architectural losses & economic conditions; Newtown Pery remained the premier retail & services district for Limerick and the greater Mid-West Region well up into the late 20th and early 21st Century. Economic stagnation in Limerick, was only broken by the Celtic Tiger in the late 20th Century. Unfortunately, Newtown Pery, still lagged behind with regards to investment & planning with exception to the riverfront of the Shannon. In order to arrest the decline of Limerick's CBD and Newtown Pery in general, both Limerick City Council and national government have introduced schemes to counteract the heavy suburbanisation of the city. Amongst the most eloborate plans is the €250 million Limerick 2030 plan which will see a complete redevelopment of the Arthur's Quay area into a new and modern retailing complex. Newtown Pery is a testament to Limerick's rich & eventful past and remains one of the most important remnants of Ireland's Georgian Era. It remains to be seen if the above schemes can stop the decline of the city's historic & elegant stock of buildings.

Peoples Park

The residents of Pery Square in the early 19th century were the most prominent and influential members of Limerick society of the time. The square and park were developed by the Pery Square Tontine Company, an idea of Matthew Barrington, the company included other notable names such as William Sexton Pery, Thomas P. Vokes, James Pain. The residences were completed in 1838 and the associated park was a key-holders only park. The intended plan was to surround the park with housing for the more affluent members of society but the funds for the project ran out before this could be completed. It was not until the 20 August 1877 that The Park at Pery Square became the public park known as People’s Park. The public park was dedicated to the memory of Richard Russell, a prominent local businessman and was opened by Major Spaight. The main entrance gate includes the memorial inscription to Richard Russell. ‘Pery Square. This public park was formed by subscription. In memory of Richard Russell the land being given by the Right Honourable. The Earl of Limerick’. It was the then Earl of Limerick in the 1870s who granted a 500 year lease of Pery Square and the surrounding grounds to the corporation under certain conditions. These included an agreement that no political or religious meetings were allowed to be held in the park and bands were not to play there on a Sunday. It was not until 1903 that the iconic Carnegie building which now houses the Limerick City Art Gallery was built, the recesses of the foundation stone contain 4 bottles, which contain the currency of the day (1903) as well as a copy of the Limerick Leader, Limerick Echo, Limerick Chronicle, Munster News and a parchment recording the event. Standing in the middle of this quiet leafy square, is a free-standing limestone column erected in 1829 by the Barrington family topped with a statue of Thomas Spring Rice (1791-1866), gives a sense of the aspiration of grandeur of the newly fashionable part of Limerick. Thomas Spring Rice was still alive, an MP for the city, with a government post, and a landowner in County Limerick when the statue was erected. He was extremely popular in the city. He was later 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon, County Kerry. The sculptor Thomas Kirk carved the statue. The statue was placed on top of the monument designed by Henry Aaron Baker . Plaque on the base of the column reads: ‘Thomas Spring Rice M.P. for the City of Limerick 1820-1832′. In 2004 there was major controversy as it was seen that the terms of this agreement were broken with the building of an apartment block on the park grounds. The park also contains a 19th century Bandstand, an ornate drinking fountain, also dedicated to Richard Russell, which was restored in 2009 and two gazebos.

Materials

As already mentioned the sculpture is made from limestone which is a sedimentary rocks. Limestone makes up about 10% of all sedimentary type rocks, which makes it widely available. This is most likely why it was used for the memorial of the World Wars. Although one downside to using limestone in an outdoor area is that it is easily eroded by the rain due to calcium carbonate reacting with the acid in rain water. Unless measures are taken to care for the statue it is likely that it could erode after years of having contact with rain water. That being said there are many famous buildings made from limestone which have survived years of abuse from the elements such as the The Great pyramid of Giza, which has an outer shell made completely from limestone and has survived even though worn for over 4000 years old. If proper precautions are taken to care for the memorial it may even stand as long as the pyramids.

Bombing

In 1929 a 20-foot high memorial dedicated to "the memory 3,000 Officers, N.C.O.'s and men of Limerick City and County who fell in the Great War 1914-18" was erected. It was paid for entirely by public sucscription. The large membership was sufficient to also establish a Legion Club in Lower Hartstonge St in the heart of Limerick City. On August 8th 1957 the original 20-foot high war memorial in Limerick was blown up. While an explosion at the War Memorial Gardens in Dublin (Islandbridge) had been a failure, the following year a British Legion memorial at Pery Square in Limerick was shattered by the force of an explosion. On 8 August 1957 it was reported that “the 20ft high memorial, which was erected in 1932, was shattered, and houses in the vicinity suffered damage when windows were blown in.” Condemning the attack, The Irish Times asked “what kind of mentality can justify to itself these childish conspiracies to remove from our midst symbols of what is, after all, our own history?” The attack was unclaimed by any republican group at the time. On a plaque on the memorial it reads; XVIIIth. The Royal Irish Regiment The Connaught Rangers The Leinster Regiment The Royal Munster Fusiliers The Royal Dublin Fusiliers The South Irish Horse 1922 - In Honoured Memory - 1992

The writing on the memorial

References

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