Film of Trinity War Memorial


On 26 September this year a ceremony was held during which a memorial stone was unveiled outside the Hall of Honour, in Front Square. A short film about the project was commissioned by the Hall of Honour Memorial Stone Committee and has just been posted on the College YouTube channel. The support of the TCD Association and Trust for the making of this film is gratefully acknowledged.

The Hall of Honour stood alone in Front Square for nine years before the remainder of the Library reading room was completed

The Hall of Honour stood alone in Front Square for nine years before the remainder of the Library reading room was completed

The Hall of Honour is well-known to those who use the 1937 Postgraduate Reading Room; it is the portico through which they enter the building. It has quite a complicated architectural history. The Library had been trying to add to its reading spaces since the late nineteenth century but was having difficulty financing any building work. After the First World War it  was decided that a much-needed new reading room would be built as a war memorial; finance still being a problem, the building work had to proceed in two phases. The entrance hall was to be built first, funded entirely by subscription, to house the Roll of Honour, as there was felt to be an urgency about raising a memorial to the thousands of Trinity people who had served, and the hundreds who had died in the War.

Installation of the Memorial Stone

Installation of the Memorial Stone

The Hall was inaugurated in 1928 and it stood alone in Front Square until the octagonal reading room was added and opened in 1937. It is the use of this name, the 1937 Reading Room, as a description for what was conceived of as a war memorial library, which Professor John Horne draws attention to in this film. He suggests that the changes which Ireland underwent in the first half of the twentieth century profoundly changed the nation’s – and Trinity’s – recollection of its service during the War, causing it to be effaced in relation to other narratives. He describes the inauguration of this Memorial Stone as an ‘act of reparation’ to remind the College community of the original purpose of the building.

Unveiling ceremony 26 September 2015

Unveiling ceremony 26 September 2015

The unveiling event, which was  organised as part of the Decade of Commemorations programme, took place on a sunny Saturday morning at 11 o’clock. Ambassadors representing the nations who fought in the War came as guests of the Provost and the audience was comprised of families of the fallen, institutional colleagues, families who had presented War-related historical materials to the Library and the general public. Two students read out six biographical sketches symbolising the range of individuals, from professors to porters, whose names are inscribed in the Roll of Honour. The Provost invited the Pro-Chancellor Professor Dermot MacAleese to unveil the beautiful carved stone, and Reid Professor of Law Ivana Bacik then gave the address. Following her comments, which dealt with issues of commemoration generally and inclusivity specifically, a wreath was laid at the stone and a moment’s silence was observed, broken by a piper playing a centuries-old lament. The Provost then invited the audience to enter the Hall and view the list of names, and to enjoy refreshments in the Dining Hall.

A fuller description of the memorial stone project may be found on the Decade of Commemoration website.

Jane Maxwell

Eight decades of testimony- the Hall of Honour in TCD

In 1928 the Hall of Honour, which acts as the entrance to the 1937 Reading Room, was officially inaugurated. It was built to house the Roll of Honour, the names of Trinity staff, students and alumni who lost their lives in the First World War. On 26 September this year a specially-commissioned memorial stone will be unveiled on the plinth in front of the building to commemorate those whose names are inscribed within.

The order of service for the opening of the Hall of Honour in Front Square in 1928. (Gall.S.13.40)

The order of service for the opening of the Hall of Honour in Front Square in 1928. (Gall.S.13.40)

The Library began planning a new reading room before the War. In 1918 it was decided to build the portico first to serve as an immediate memorial to those who had died. The whole building was designed by architect Sir Thomas Manly Deane (1851-1932); it was one of the few architectural works he undertook after the death, at Gallipoli in 1915, of his son Thomas. The building work was overseen by John Good and the carving of the names was the work of a Mr. Harrison. The Reading Room itself was finished in 1937.

It had always intended to have some additional sculptural element on the central plinth in front of the Hall but this was never completed. The College Archives, which are kept in the Library, contain the drawings for the Hall, and the correspondence with the architect in which he discusses the addition of a sculptural element.

One of architect Thomas M Deane's drawings for the Hall of Honour and the Library reading room. (TCD MUN MC 42 p 11)

One of architect Thomas M Deane’s drawings for the Hall of Honour and the Library reading room. (TCD MUN MC 42 p 11)

The Hall of Honour was officially opened by the Vice-Chancellor Lord Glenavy in the presence of Provost E. J. Gwynn and invited guests. A two-minute silent black and white film of the event, by British Pathé, may be see on YouTube

In 2014 Provost Patrick Prendergast decided that one of the key Decade of Commemorations events would be the commissioning, installation and unveiling of a memorial stone, to be placed at the front of the Hall of Honour, drawing attention to nature of the building behind it. Sculptor Stephen Burke  accepted the commission and, in consultation with the Hall of Honour Memorial Stone committee, undertook to produce a Portland stone with the following text:

Tionscaíodh an Halla Onóra sa bhliain 1928 in onóir mball foirne, na mac léinn agus na gcéimithe de chuid Choláiste a fuair bás sa Chéad Chogadh Domhanda. Cuireadh críoch leis in 1937 le tógáil seomra léitheoireachta nua don leabharlann.

The Hall of Honour was inaugurated in 1928 in honour of the staff, students and alumni of the College who died in the First World War. It was completed in 1937 by the addition of a new reading room for the Library.

The formal handing over to the Provost of the key to the Hall of Honour was the first act in the inauguration of the Hall of Honour (TCD MS Object 27)

The formal handing over to the Provost of the key to the Hall of Honour was the first act in the inauguration of the Hall of Honour (TCD MS Object 27)

The unveiling of the Hall of Honour Memorial Stone will begin at 11.00 in Front Square and will be followed by a reception in the Dining Hall. All are welcome; please register your intention to attend here.

Jane Maxwell