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THIS weekend’s picnic/fest at Leinster Lawn, outside Leinster House in Dublin, will give the public a close-up view of the most elusive memorial in Ireland, the Cenotaph on Leinster Lawn.
It has been off-limits to the public, since its second version was completed in 1950 and consequently most people are unaware of what it represents.
The original Cenotaph, designed by George Atkinson, was erected in 1923 to commemorate the first anniversary of the deaths of Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins.
It contained plaster medallions of both men by Albert Power.
A medallion of Kevin O’Higgins was added in 1928.
The wooden structure became dilapidated and was dismantled in 1939 by Eamon de Valera, with the agreement of Fine Gael.
It was agreed that a permanent structure be commissioned by the government. A new design was produced in 1940 and formally agreed to by John A Costello for Fine Gael.
PS Doyle TD and Costello continued to ask parliamentary questions on the matter, but nothing happened during the Second World War years.
When Costello himself became Taoiseach in 1948, he took a direct interest in the matter.
A new design by Raymond McGrath, was agreed on July 26, 1949.
It was estimated to cost £20,000 and consisted of a 60-foot granite obelisk, capped by a gilt bronze flame (Claidheamh Solais) which would stand on a circular sloping base, adorned with four bronze wreaths that framed the three medallions.
The inscriptions reads: “DO CHUN GLÓIRE DÉ AGUS ONÓRA NA h-ÉIREANN. MICHEÁL Ó COILEÁIN 1890-1922.
ART Ó GRIOBHTA 1871-1922. CAOIMHGHÍIN O h-UIGÍN 1892-1927.” The story of the Cenotaph is to be found in the recently-published book, John A Costello 1891-1976, Compromise Taoiseach.
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