A Historic Gate

When emerging on to St. Stephens Green from the top of Dublin’s Grafton Street, one cannot fail to be impressed by the elegant imposing arch which, on the opposite side of the road, adorns the corner entrance to St. Stephens Green Park.

This Wicklow granite ashlar build monument, known as Fusiliers Arch, was erected in 1907. It is a war memorial in honour of the many Royal Dublin Fusiliers who lost their lives in action in South Africa during the Second Boer War 1899-1902.

This is an abstract from the inscriptions on the arch:

In memory of the officers, non-commissioned officers

and men of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who fell in the

South African War A.D.1899·1900

In recent weeks, while browsing in Reads Book Shop on Nassau Street, I happened upon a book written by one: Ken Finlay entitled: Dublin Day by Day (366 Days of Dublin History).

The book is a fascinating journey, through short 200 word snippets of one years’ worth, of day by day Dublin History, spanning a 967 year period:  1014 to 1981.

On page 116 under the date 31st July, I came upon the following:

“The Dublin Fusiliers and four other Irish regiments in the British Army were officially disbanded on 31st July 1922. In June, the flags of the Regiment had been handed over to King George V who promised to hold them in trust until the regiments were re-established.

 The regiment of the Dublin Fusiliers had come into existence as far back as the mid – 1600s as part of the East India Company garrison – the 102nd Royal Madras Fusiliers – the Dublin Fusiliers date from the merging of the two Indian regiments after the Indian Mutiny in 1857.

 The Dubs (also nicknamed “The Old Toughs”) were mauled during the Boer War. In November 1899 a party of Dubs, along with London Evening Post reporter Winston Churchill were captured by the Boers. On his escape two months later Churchill telegraphed the Colonel of the Dublin Fusiliers: “My earnest congratulations on the honour of the Dublin Fusiliers more than any other Regiment have won for the land of their birth. We are all wearing Shamrock here.”

 During WWI a total of 4,777 Dubs lost their lives during the battles of Gallipoli, Salonika, Somme, Ypres and Passchendaele. The regiment’s lasting memorial is Fusiliers Arch at the Grafton Street end of St. Stephens Green – it records casualties suffered during the Boer War”.

Winston Churchill, as a child, spent several happy years living at the Little Lodge (Residence of the Private Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.  In 1878 young Winston was present in the park to witness his grandfather, the Viceroy, unveiled an equestrian statue to Lord Gough (Lieut-Colonel George Gough – 1779-1869). Lord Gough was an Irishman and a highly decorated Officer in the British Army who had distinguished himself during the Peninsular War in 1809 and later in India. The statue to Lord Gough once stood at the cross-roads near the Parkgate Street end of the Phoenix Park, where today visitors will see only a traffic roundabout.

In his book: My Early Life 1874-1904 written in 1930 Winston Churchill recounts his Phoenix Park experience of 1847 as follows:

“A great black crowd, scarlet soldiers on horse-back, strings pulling away a brown shiny sheet, the Old Duke, the formidable grandpa; is talking loudly to the crowd. I recall even a phrase he used: ‘And with a withering volley he shattered the enemy’s line.’ I quite understood that he was speaking about war and fighting and that a volley meant what the black-coated soldiers (riflemen) used to do with loud bangs so often in the Phoenix Park where I was taken for morning walks”.

Have you ever wondered about the Arch in St. Stephens Green? Have you ever visited the Arch or St. Stephens Green Park? I would be interested to read your comments.

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About dubmantalks

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7 Responses to A Historic Gate

  1. I did know the arch was in recognition of the Dublin Fusiliers, but that was all I knew. Thanks for enlightening me further

  2. Mary Clifford says:

    Hi, my great grandfather is one of the names on the arch, P Clifford

    • dubmantalks says:

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my post: A Historic Gate. I was interested to hear that your Grandfather’s name is among those many other Irishmen commemorated. It is good to know also that we have arrived at a point in our history in which we can freely and comprehensively commemorate the brave deeds of all deserving past and present citizens of our small Island.

  3. Pingback: A Walking Tour of Dublin - Bohemian Traveler

  4. marty baum says:

    i visited in 2007…it was a november night, with the dublin city lights illuminating the old carved stone…i began to read the names, realizing this was only a small forgotten war and, remembering the huge cemeteries of europe, with all of those individual names in all of those out of the way places, once again reminding me of the utter waste and futility of warfare and how all of those names were just sucked up into the maelstrom of history…i suppose we all gotta go…but so young, so naive? Much better to live a life of peace and grace if one possibly can…but i am glad they built the old thing…gives the place a touch of class, a sense of history

    • dubmantalks says:

      Hi Marty,

      Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated. Delighted that you were able to visit and bear witness to the particular piece of history to which you refer. How right you are, in relation to the “naive” nature of many of the young men who sadly handed back their precious lives in perhaps an unknowing way through seeing it all as a big adventure to be enjoyed with their chums. For many though, it was a job and perhaps the only way they knew, or could find, to support themselves and their families. One would like to think that we learn from calamitous conflict and the inevitable associated horrendous loss of life but sadly, today anyway, there is still serious PROFIT for the few, to be made from endless conflict and to the few, the many are simply fodder in front of the weapons and indeed fodder also, behind the weapons. We so badly need, right now, a charismatic set of honourable and principled people to, once and for all guide us, in a socially just way, out of this dark age of militarism. Long live youth and good people.

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