Centenary of the end of the Civil War to be marked by national event on Sunday

Garden of Remembrance will see relatives of people from both sides gather to remember the dead of the war

A commemoration ceremony to mark the centenary of the end of the Civil War will take place on Sunday in the Garden of Remembrance.

The event, which begins at midday, will be addressed by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Tánaiste Micheál Martin and will feature the Irish army.

Invitations to the commemoration were sent out three weeks ago to those who had relatives involved in the Civil War.

It fulfils a recommendation by the Government’s Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations that there should be one national event to remember the dead of the Civil War.


A concert that was held in the National Concert Hall last September, and which was addressed by President Michael D Higgins as well as Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar, in their respective roles then as taoiseach and tánaiste, was supposed to be the national commemoration.

However, many relatives complained that they had not been invited to the event and it was judged as too low-key to have fulfilled that role.

The war ended on May 24th, 1923 as a result of a joint declaration by the IRA chief-of-staff Frank Aiken to the anti-Treaty side to dump arms and by Éamon de Valera who declared that “military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic.”

The end of the war was not immediately apparent to people in Ireland as the joint declaration was not made public.

The order was only discovered by Free State intelligence officers a day later and made public in the papers on the morning of May 29th, 1923. Even then it was not apparent that the war was over as it was not certain that all of the anti-Treaty units would obey Aiken’s command. As it turned out, they all did.

The war, which lasted 11 months, led to the deaths of approximately 1,400 people and caused enormous destruction estimated at £30 million, more than the entire tax take of the Irish government at the time (£28 million). The road and rail network was wrecked and it took the State many years to pay off its war debts.

Relatives from the pro- and anti-Treaty sides have been invited. De Valera’s grandson Éamon Ó Cuív said the commemoration was a “good idea” and was being held in the same spirit of respectfulness that had characterised commemorations of the Civil War to date.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times