A “peace” of history – Monaghan Community Network visits Mayo Peace Park

Monaghan Community Network is tasked to deliver a Cultural Awareness Programme which is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The Cultural Awareness Programme aims to celebrate multiculturalism and diversity, to value the skills and cultures of all communities, indigenous and new, and ensure they are allowed to have the same opportunities as their Irish peers, and to participate fully in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities. On Sunday 24th March 2019, the group paid a visit to Mayo Peace Park Garden of Remembrance, Lannagh Road, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

Mayo Peace Park and Garden of Remembrance commemorates all those who served and died in the major world wars and conflicts of the past century as well as in other wars and conflicts. It was developed to remember a forgotten generation of brave heroic local people from every town and village of the county, including soldiers, sailors, and nurses, whose service and sacrifice had been ignored and forgotten, indeed airbrushed out of modern Irish history until recent times. They had served with the Allied Forces in the world wars, in particular with the Australian, Canadian, United States, United Kingdom and Commonwealth, New Zealand and South African Forces. It was also interesting to note the surname McKenna – a name indigenous to north Monaghan – the James McKenna listed being a member of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who was killed in WWI.

At the solemn event local historian Ernie Sweeney gave an account of the inspiration for the Peace Garden, a result of Michael Feeney’s wish to commemorate his grand father who was killed in WW1. The main memorial contains the names of over 1100 Mayo people who died in WW1.  Noeleen, a Monaghan Network member gave a touching rendition of the anti-war song “All the Fine Young Men” by Eric Bogle, and Snehal Gite and Mary Mannering laid a poppy wreath at the site, and this was followed by a prayer – a time to pause, reflect, and remember. Thanks to Michael Fisher and Ernie Sweeney for arranging the visit.

They told all the fine young men,
“Ah, when this war is over,
There will be peace,
And the peace will last forever.”
In Flanders Fields,
At Lone Pine and Bersheeba,
For king and country,
Honour and for duty,
The young men fought and cursed and wept and died.They told all the fine young men,
“Ah, when this war is over,
In your country’s grateful heart
We will cherish you forever.”
Tobruk and Alamein,
Bhuna and Kokoda,
In a world mad with war,
Like their fathers before,
The young men fought and cursed and wept and died.For many of those fine young men
All the…

Image Source: Mayo.ie