11 Nov 2012

Island of Ireland Peace Park


Peace Pledge
"From the crest of this ridge, which was the scene of terrific 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 thank 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."
This peace pledge is inscribed on a plaque at the Irish Peace Park which is at the site of the Battle in Messines, near Ypres in Flanders, Belgium. The memorial site is dedicated to the soldiers of Ireland, of all political and religious beliefs, who died, were wounded or missing in the Great War of 1914-1918. Irish men and women served with the Armies of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

The memorial site is also known as the “Irish Peace Park” or the “Irish Peace Tower”.

The tower was built as a symbol of reconciliation by An All-Ireland Journey of Reconciliation Trust and the support of the people of Messines (now called by its Flemish name Mesen). It was constructed using stones from a demolished workhouse in Mullinger, County Westmeath, Ireland. The design is that of a traditional Irish round tower dating back to the 8th century. It is 33.5 metres (110 feet) high. As part of the design the inside of the tower is lit up by the sun only on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This is the time at which the Armistice was declared and the guns fell silent on the Western Front after four years of fighting.

The Island of Ireland Peace Park was officially opened at 11:00 hours on 11th November 1998 by the then President of Ireland Mary McAleese in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II and King Albert II of Belgium. Each year a commemorative Remembrance Day service is held at the Tower at 11.00 hours on 11th November.

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