Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

Monday Monuments and Memorials – Island of Ireland Peace Park, Mesen (Messines), Belgium

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The Island of Ireland Peace Park – Páirc Síochána d’Oileán na hÉirean – was “dedicated to the memory of all those from the Island of Ireland who fought and died in the First World War.” It was dedicated on 11 November 1998, in the months following the signing of the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement) and 82 years after the 1916 Easter uprising.

Each feature of the park is a symbolic element of peace and reconciliation.  

The park is located near the site of the June 1917 Battle of Messines Ridge, where the three Irish divisions fought.

The most prominent feature is a traditional Irish round tower. A window is situated so that sunlight comes in only at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Inside are copies of the books recording the names of 49,400 known Irish who died in WW1 (originals are at the National War Memorial Gardens in Dublin).

Three pillars commemorate the three Irish divisions that fought with the British Expeditionary Force:

  • 10th (Irish) Division – 9,363 casualties
  • 16th (Irish) Division – 28,398 casualties
  • 36th (Ulster) Division – 32,186 casualties

Stone tablets reminiscent of Commonwealth war grave markers are inscribed with poems, prose and letters from Irish soldiers. Four pillars name the four provinces of Ireland (Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ulster). Another tablet lists the counties of Ireland, their names running together.

A Peace Pledge is found near the entrance to the park:

From the crest of this ridge, which was the scene of horrific carnage in the First World War on which we have built a peace park and Round Tower to commemorate the thousands of young men from all parts of Ireland who fought a common enemy, defended democracy and the rights of all nations, whose graves are in shockingly uncountable numbers and those who have no graves, we condemn war and the futility of war. We repudiate and denounce violence, aggression, intimidation, threats and unfriendly behaviour.

As Protestants and Catholics, we apologise for the terrible deeds we have done to each other and ask forgiveness. From this sacred shrine of remembrance, where soldiers of all nationalities, creeds and political allegiances were united in death, we appeal to all people in Ireland to help build a peaceful and tolerant society. Let us remember the solidarity and trust that developed between Protestant and Catholic Soldiers when they served together in these trenches.

As we jointly mark the armistice of 11 November 1918 – when the guns fell silent along this western front – we affirm that a fitting tribute to the principles for which men and women from the Island of Ireland died in both World Wars would be permanent peace.

Author: greatwar100reads

Canadian crusader for equality and justice. Connoisseur and creator of the written word. Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books and monuments. Read more at

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