how has the visible past been shaped by the preservation or neglect of the built heritage of Ireland?

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TMA 04

In no more than 1200 words, how has the visible past been shaped by the preservation or neglect of the built heritage of Ireland?


Ireland’s tradition has been defined not only through the preservation and neglect of its built heritage, but through the invention of their tradition, and it is this student’s aim to explore and answer this. First we need to define what we mean by the ‘visible past’ and ‘built heritage’. It is this student’s belief that these terms refer the buildings/monuments etc that were erected and seen as of cultural significance.

Since the Middle Ages, the English had come to rule over Ireland and by the 13th century BCE, English law was introduced.  During the years of Anglo-English rule, there were several attempts to throw off the shackles of English rule (1641, 1798, 1916 and 1919) and establish a fully independent Ireland, and these have all had an impact on Ireland’s built heritage.

In the 1916 Easter Rising, around 1600 members of the Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers seized several key locations across Dublin, proclaiming that Ireland was an independent country, free from British rule.  The commanders, Pádraig Pearse and James Connolly, made their headquarters at the General Post Office. The building was damaged by the British during the rebellion. It was not until later, after Ireland became an independent state (1922) that the Irish Free State started to repair the building. This was a building pronounced to be an important Irish nationalist site, as it could be seen as a building free of the taint of British rule. The original columns still hold the bullet holes and a copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic is on display. In front of the building, a statue of the mythical Irish king, Cúchulainn, was erected.

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From this building, we can gain a sense of pure Irish pride and nationalism. After the building was damaged, consideration was given to relocating before the restoration work was started and reopened in 1929. We can see quite clearly the notion of a national past of Irish history. For example, the Proclamation of the Irish State says, ‘In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood’ (Laurence, p.181). This clearly invokes the sense of Irish pride and tradition of all Irish people, reminding them where they come from. The ...

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