While in Castlebar, Ireland last month, my husband and I were taken to the Mayo Peace Park and Garden of Remembrance by several of our local friends. On the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, I thought it was a fitting time to discuss this local Irish memorial, which is reminiscent of our own Vietnam Memorial in Washington.
The creation of The Peace Park can be attributed to Castlebar resident, Michael Feeney, who spent years collecting lists of County Mayo residents who died in the world wars and other conflicts around the world. His idea took root after learning that his own grandfather was not recorded among any articles written about the Mayo war dead. Believing that Patrick Feeney was likely one of countless others whose service was not memorialized, Mr. Feeney began collecting the names of those who had served.
After years of gathering those names with the assistance of his wife, Michael Feeney’s project came to life with the opening of the park during the autumn of 2008. The centerpiece is a curved granite wall containing the names of approximately 1100 men and women from County Mayo who died during World War I. On the perimeter are smaller monuments to the war dead from the Spanish Civil War, Second World War, Korean War, Vietnam, and Afghanistan.
The park is not meant to glorify war but rather to serve as a place for families to come and remember their loved ones who served in these conflicts. As we walked toward the wall, it magically appeared to grow in size. It is a very peaceful place. While we were placing a wreath at the base of the main wall, I thought of those in my family who had served, like my dad, but luckily, did not die during their service.