Friday 19 January 2018

41 years on, UCD move completed with glass reunion

Kevin Keane

AFTER 41 years, the country's largest university will today mark the final act in its move to a "new campus".

The unveiling of a priceless work of art, depicting the life of a War of Independence hero, will bring to a close University College Dublin's move from Earlsfort Terrace to its Belfield campus.

UCD transferred most of its departments to Belfield four decades ago. But the university has said that it will only consider the relocation complete today with the unveiling of the stained-glass window in honour of Kevin Barry.

The memorial window was first erected in what is now the National Concert Hall 76 years ago as a tribute to the 18-year-old first-year UCD medical student and soldier with the first battalion of the IRA's Dublin Brigade.

Barry was hanged for his role in a 1920 ambush on a British army vehicle in which three soldiers were killed.

Designed by Richard King (1907-1974), the principal designer of the renowned Harry Clarke Studios, it depicts images of prominent people and events associated with the Irish nationalist struggle, such as Robert Emmet, Lord Edward Fitzgerald and the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Cuchulainn, the Battle of Clontarf and Patrick Sarsfield are also included in the window, which was unveiled in 1934 by Eamonn de Valera.

The art work has now been installed in the new Charles Institute in Belfield and will be officially unveiled by Education Minister Ruari Quinn today.

In 2007 the last UCD medical students moved out of the building but a spokesman for the university said the removal of the window was the unfinished business.

UCD president Dr Hugh Brady said: "The final decision to bid farewell to Earlsfort Terrace prompted plenty of discussion in relation to the fate of the Kevin Barry Memorial Window.

"Perhaps because I was myself a medical student in the Terrace, I felt strongly that the window was -- and is -- an integral part of the heritage of the university.

"We have a role to play in providing the next generation with not just the symbols of our past, but a context in which to understand our history. I believe that this wonderful piece of art provides an important touchstone for that understanding."

In addition to the memorial window, UCD holds a large collection of Kevin Barry material in its archives, including documents from his court martial and execution, his college cap, athletic suit and a sliothar.

Irish Independent

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