On the 5th of January, ground was broken on a 1916 Garden of Remembrance in the historic Forest Park in Springfield, Massachusetts. The garden is the first of its type in the USA and will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, when Irish republicans launched an insurrection against British rule as they sought to establish an independent Republic. The ceremony was attended by Springfield’s Mayor, the local Congressman, city officials and Irish Vice-Consul General Meg Laffan.
The Forest Park covers an impressive 735 acres, making it one of the largest urban parks in the US. The Garden of Remembrance will be a beautiful addition to the park and is sure to attract even higher numbers of visitors. Once finished, it will feature seven oak trees to commemorate the individuals who signed the Irish Proclamation. A stone replica of the document will stand as a permanent memorial to the Rising. Two flags, American and Irish, will be permanently on display too.
The garden is designed as a living memorial to the men and women who gave their lives for Irish freedom. The space was designed by renowned Irish landscape artist Diarmuid Gavin. He created seven different designs to ensure a fitting tribute was chosen to mark the occasion. Each one featured the oak trees, replica of the Proclamation and an Irish flag.
The location for the garden memorial has been carefully chosen because Massachusetts has a very strong Irish community and cultural links with Ireland. In fact many people fled to America in their search for freedom. Many people from Western Massachusetts can even point to ancestors who were involved in the fight for independence in 1916.
The memorial will join those being created in Counties across Ireland to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising and the Garden of Remembrance that opened in Dublin in 1966 on the 50th anniversary of the insurrection. As creators of memorial plaques, headstones and other memorial products, we look to these unique memorials with interest and take inspiration from their creative, unique designs.
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