In the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, over 3,000 suspected rebels were arrested and taken to Richmond Barracks. The leaders were identified and held in the Gymnasium before walking across the officers square to their court-martial. 186 men and one woman made this walk flanked by soldiers across the courtyard where this garden now sits, they had no legal counsel or presence of a public gallery. They would make the return walk unsure of where their next steps would take them, Kilmainham for execution, The North Wall for deportation or home.
Dublin City Council commissioned me to design a garden installation to commemorate this historic walk. During my research I came across a diary entry from Countess Markievicz (Constance Gore-Booth), the only woman to be court-martialed, which she wrote as a young girl. ‘Nature should provide me with something to live for, something to die for’. I felt its sentiment was personal yet universal in a way that could convey the motivations, hopes and fears of all those who walked to their court-martial. The reference to nature felt fitting given the garden setting.
I saw in the quote the opportunity to interpret the outward and return journeys by flipping the direction of the type. ‘Something to Live for’ guiding you out and ‘Something to Die for’ leading you back. Creating a path with Markievicz’s words felt appropriate, not only to mark the walk but also to keep the views of the historic façade of the Barracks uninterrupted by avoiding a vertical structure.
My hope is that as you walk along the installation, you will have one foot steeped in the historical significance of the site and the lives of those who were court-martialed and the other foot grounded by what these words mean in your life, your values.