Militaria Archive

The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland

At the end of World War One a town in Northern France donated a statue of the Sacred Heart to the parish of Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) to commemorate the many local Irishmen who had fought and died in Flanders during World War One. Irishmen who fought in the British Army during World War One did so for a wide variety of reasons, reasons which included the promise of Home Rule as a limited form of Irish Independence. While World War One raged on the continent the Irish Rising of 1916 took place in Ireland and led to the Irish War of Independence against Britain. Returning Irishmen in British Army uniform were now treated with suspicion while a new war was fought on Irish soil, waged by the Irish Republican Army against the forces of the British crown: Black and Tans, Auxilliaries, British Army and Royal Irish Constabulary. Of these returning Irishmen some joined the IRA, some fought again for the British forces, while most simply hid their medals and got on with their lives. In the new political climate the subject of commemoration of their sacrifice became contentious. The statue was offered by France and refused by the Christian Brothers and also the local parish church. Finally accepted by a sister in the Dominican Convent the statue was placed in an Oratory. Sister M.Concepta Lynch hand painted the wall behind the statue and the results were so impressive that she was asked to complete the rest of the Oratory, which she proceeded to do from 1920 until 1936 (in the style of the Gaelic revival, using the symbols of Early Irish Christian Art). The stained glass windows were provided by the famous Hary Clarke Studio of Dublin. This building is now preserved within an outer shell and is open to the public for a very limited period of time each year.