St. Stephen’s Green
In 1916, British snipers on the fourth-floor of the Hotel open-fired on rebels fairly exposed in trenches dug within the Green just below. Not expecting gunfire to blaze down on them, the insurgents took refuge in the nearby Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI).
The distinct white pillars of the RCSI can be seen in the distance across the Park. The same stone façade now bears the scars of small arms fire.
Countess Markiewicz was the second in command at St. Stephen’s Green. She was the only female leader in The Rising and because of this her life was spared from execution. A tributary bronze bust of the Countess is displayed in the middle of the Green.
At the top of Grafton Street overlooking the park stands the large Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. The mall offers nearly 100 outlets and often hosts special exhibits at The Green Gallery on the top floor.
This shopping area sprouted up during Ireland’s economic boom in the late 1980s and 1990s. Ireland transformed into one of the wealthiest nations in Europe after having been one of the poorest. With the “Celtic Tiger” now quietly at rest and unemployment and emigration rates soaring, Ireland once again is a nation struggling to find its feet. But at least it is doing so on its own terms.
About St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green was enclosed in 1664. The 9 hectare(22 acre) park was laid out in its present form in 1880. Landscaped with flowerbeds, trees, a fountain and a lake, the green is dotted with memorials to eminent Dubliners. The 1887 bandstand is still the focal point for free daytime concerts in summer.
Enter the Georgian park at Fusillier’s Arch across from Grafton Street, the main street in Dublin’s most popular shopping district. A mix of high-end shops line Grafton Street and even on rainy days buskers (street performers) can be found. Grafton Street is remarkably decorated during the Christmas season.
Perhaps these words written by Dublin born poet Liam Mac Uistin will inspire Ireland once again. It was written in 1976 and won a contest to find a poem for the Garden of Remembrance that captures Ireland’s struggle for freedom and appreciation for the lives waged to make it happen.
“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.