By staff reporter
The historic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin has launched a specially commissioned monument and exhibition to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.
The ‘Lives Remembered’ exhibition is themed around remembrance of those affected by conflict, not only in World War One but in any context. At the centre of the new exhibition is a new monument called the ‘Tree of Remembrance’, on which members of the public are invited to tie their own messages of remembrance.
Speaking at today’s launch, Andrew Smith, Education Officer at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, said: “This exhibition marks the centenary of World War One and also gives visitors an opportunity to remember people who have been affected in any conflict situation.
“The idea is that the new commemoration tree will serve as a monument for people to connect with when remembering loss of life through conflict or war.
“The tree itself is made of sculpted steel and surrounded by barbed wire, which we hope will serve as a reminder of the ugliness and brutality of conflict. Visitors to the Cathedral are invited to tie small tags to the tree, with thoughts, memories or prayers for loved ones lost or affected by conflict. Over time, the aim is that the barbed wire will be replaced by a wall of messages of hope.”
The ‘Lives Remembered’ exhibition will build on Saint Patrick’s Cathedral’s historic reputation as an important centre of remembrance. Already, there are nearly 200 plaques and monuments throughout the Cathedral, commemorating individuals and families.
Commenting on the significance of the new exhibition, Mr. Smith said: “With the construction of this new monument and exhibition, the Cathedral is making a clear statement of intent that remembrance should be inclusive rather than exclusive.
“We intend to use this remembrance initiative to engage new audiences with the Cathedral and allow them to use the space to remember victims of conflict. We hope to reach out to development NGOs who work in areas of conflict and post-conflict zones and we also aim to build links with institutions that work to promote conflict resolution, both at home and abroad.
“Given the current conflict in Gaza and the recent loss of life as a result of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 tragedy, the launch of this exhibition is particularly timely. We hope that the exhibition and its centrepiece sculpture will be a poignant reminder of the fact that conflict affects all humanity and that, at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, all those affected can be remembered.”
In addition to the ‘Tree of Remembrance’, the ‘Lives Remembered’ exhibition includes audiovisual elements – which play on specially installed iPad monitors – such as an interactive timeline of events and videos of World War One veterans, Cathedral staff, clergy and congregation members talking about loved ones lost during the War. Daily re-enactments with actors in costume will also take place and there is a full section of the exhibition focusing on the impact that World War One had on Bride Street in Dublin 8, from where 31 men lost their lives during the war.
The ‘Lives Remembered’ exhibition will remain open within the Cathedral for the next four years and a free workshop for primary and secondary school students, themed around remembrance of those affected by World War One, will be launched in September 2014.
A short video on the story behind and the building of the ‘Tree of Remembrance’ can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/101710460.
For further details on the exhibition and wider activities at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, visit: www.stpatrickscathedral.ie.