Dublin's special little park
Updated: Apr 1, 2022
Just across the road from Christchurch and we find the Peace Park. This tiny park was dedicated in 1988 to the universal aspiration for peace but unfortunately had to be closed for a time due to neglect and misuse. Fortunately it was refurbished and reopened in 2019.
The park is home to a number of monuments on the theme of peace:
A poignant monument commemorating the some 49,600 Irishmen who died in WW1 which was dedicated in 2019. The central feature is a raised circular area some 5 meters in diameter and comprising a mixture of soil from Flanders and the four provinces of Ireland . The theme is “The fields of Flanders”
The Tree of Life is a bronze sculpture that was originally part of the gardens in 1988. Crafted by artist Leo Higgins, it was inspired by the poem Peace, by the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh. The sculpture depicts a dove with an olive branch in its beak (a symbol of peace) ascending a tree which bears the leaves of many different types of trees (depicting the unity of all life).
Small snippets from the Book of Proverbs, Kavanagh, and also WB Yeats are set in the walls and footpaths throughout the park. “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, / her ways are of pleasantness, / and all her paths are peace. / She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her”.
Finally the entrance to the park is “guarded” by the statues of three skipping children, the Millennium Child, cast by sculpture John Behan. The sculpture was sponsored by the childcare organization Barnardo’s, founded by Dr Thomas Barnardo who grew up in the areas and was schooled in nearby St Patrick’s Grammar school.
The park stands on the site of the Dublin's original Tholsel. Tholsel (toll-sale) is a middle English word meaning "toll-hall". Tholsels served as public administration buildings used for tax collection, as a city hall, sometimes a court, and as a meeting place for guildsmen and merchants. Several were built around Ireland including in Limerick, Kilkenny, Carlingford, and New Ross.
The Tholsel that was built in 1311 appears in Speed's map of Dublin published in 1610. A new Tholsel was erected around 1681. Its popularity with merchants waned following the opening of the new Royal Exchange (now City Hall) in 1779 and it fell into disrepair and was demolished some time between 1809 and 1820.